Briarcliff Entertainment Has Acquired Domestic Distribution Rights To Critically Acclaimed Dark Comedy “My Dead Friend Zoe”

MY-DEAD-FRIEND-ZOEBriarcliff Entertainment has acquired domestic distribution rights to Legion M’s critically acclaimed dark comedy MY DEAD FRIEND ZOE which won SXSW Film Festival’s Audience Award this year. The film stars Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead, Star Trek: Discovery), Natalie Morales (Parks and Recreation, No Hard Feelings), Academy Award nominee Ed Harris (Westworld, Top Gun: Maverick, Apollo 13) and Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby, Shawshank Redemption, Invictus).

The stellar supporting cast includes Gloria Reuben (ER, Lincoln) and Utkarsh Ambudkar (Ghosts, Free Guy). The film is the directorial debut of Kyle Hausmann-Stokes, a former U.S. Army infantry paratrooper and Iraq War Bronze Star veteran.

Currently rated 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, MY DEAD FRIEND ZOE is Hausmann-Stokes’ creative take on the post-war experience and a tribute to veterans of all generations. Co-written with A.J. Bermudez, Hausmann-Stokes and Bermudez’s poignant script laid the foundation for powerful performances from a truly all-star cast. Martin-Green’s portrayal of Merit, hailed by critics as one of the best performances of the year, showcases the depth of a friendship forged in Afghanistan and the complexity of a divided family in rural Oregon.

Coupled with Harris’ depth and emotional resonance as Merit’s grandfather battling Alzheimer’s, the two characters navigate their differing war experiences with a sense of humor that is key to the film’s emotional impact.

MY DEAD FRIEND ZOE is a dark comedy drama that follows the journey of Merit (Sonequa Martin-Green), a U.S. Army Afghanistan veteran who is at odds with her family thanks to the presence of Zoe (Natalie Morales), her dead best friend from the Army. Despite the persistence of her VA group counselor (Morgan Freeman), the tough love of her mother (Gloria Reuben) and the levity of an unexpected love interest, Merit’s cozy-dysfunctional friendship with Zoe keeps the duo insulated from the world. That is until Merit’s estranged grandfather (Ed Harris) — holed up at the family’s ancestral lake house — begins to lose his way and needs the one thing he refuses… help. At its core, this is a buddy film about a complicated friendship, a divided family, and the complex ways in which we process grief.

Briarcliff plans to release the film in theaters nationwide for November 1, 2024.

The announcement was made by Briarcliff’s CEO Tom Ortenberg.

“My Dead Friend Zoe is a moving exploration of military veterans, told in a manner we haven’t seen before and one in which we believe will leave audiences with a deeper connection to this special group of Americans,” said Ortenberg. “We’re so excited for moviegoers to fall in love with, laugh and cry with these characters in the way that we have, all the while shedding light on important issues that anyone—veteran or not—can relate to and celebrate.”

The film is produced by Paul Scanlan (Legion M), Terri Lubaroff, Kyle Hausman-Stokes, Ray Maiello and Mike Field (Radiant Media Studios), Richard Silverman (ReCre8 Entertainment) and Robert Paschall, Jr. Executive Producers include Sonequa Martin-Green, Natalie Morales, Ed Harris, Jeff Annison, David Baxter, Brandi Plants, Nancy Masterson, Joe Masterson and Igor Tsukerman.

The film also marks the executive producer debut of NFL star Travis Kelce.

“We are excited to team up with industry leader Tom Ortenberg and his team at Briarcliff to give My Dead Friend Zoe the full-strength theatrical release and care and attention it deserves,” said Paul Scanlan, co-founder and CEO of Legion M. “With a history of picking breakout success films, we’re beyond grateful for Tom and his team’s enthusiastic passion for this important project.”

“We are thrilled to work with tastemaker Tom Ortenberg and his Briarcliff team to theatrically release My Dead Friend Zoe and bring attention to this important film,” said Ray Maiello, co-founder of Radiant Media Studios. “It’s a powerful film with an outstanding cast and we are delighted our renewable energy investments helped bring this impactful story to light.”

The deal was negotiated by CAA Media Finance on behalf of the filmmakers, and by Tom Ortenberg, Jessica Rose, Danielle Goodman Strong and Andrew Ortenberg on behalf of Briarcliff Entertainment.