LAIKA and Focus Features Teaming Up for Three More Films

by     Posted 27 days ago

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I’m thrilled whenever LAIKA releases a new stop-motion animated feature film, and every time I feel like I want to pick it up and protect it from the kinds of cynical, bland, and uninspired animation films that seems to populate the marketplace.  Through Coraline, ParaNorman, and now The Boxtrolls, the studio has continued to march to the beat of its own drum, crafting gorgeous and compassionate films that refuse to talk down to kids.  Their movies don’t make near as much money as the big releases from the likes of DreamWorks Animation or Pixar, and so it comes as extremely welcome news that LAIKA and Focus Features have entered a distribution deal for the animation studio’s next three projects, ensuring that we have at least three more LAIKA movies to look forward to.  More after the jump.

SINISTER 2 Will Haunt Theaters on August 21st, 2015

by     Posted 99 days ago

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Sinister 2 is just over a year away.  Focus Features announced today that the horror sequel will land in wide release on August 21st, 2015.  While original director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Deliver Us From Evil)  isn’t returning behind the camera, he did team with C. Robert Cargill (who also worked on the original film) to pen the script and will of course produce the movie alongside Jason Blum.  If you saw Sinister you can probably guess why there aren’t any announcements about Ethan Hawke coming back.

I really liked the first film’s use of imagery and I think the general mood of the piece was its most successful element.  So I’m glad that they’re entrusting the reins on this on to Ciaran Foy, who directed the excellent Citadel (seriously, seek that one out if you haven’t seen it already).  Hit the jump for more on the Sinister 2 release date.

Justin Lin to Direct Crime Thriller TIMES SQUARE for Focus Features

by     Posted 225 days ago

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Focus Features has acquired Times Square.  That is to say, the crime thriller script from Taylor Materne and Jacob Rubin that landed on the Black List.  Justin Lin has been tapped to direct the picture, which takes place during “the last days of the old Times Square when it was transitioning from a seedy lawless midtown Manhattan dump to a family friendly corporate mecca.” That sets the stage for a young man with a secret past whose loyalties are torn between the neighborhood boss who raised him and a veteran ex-cop who tries to protect him.  Chernin Entertainment, Perfect Storm and Far Hills Pictures will produce.  Hit the jump for more.

Focus Features to Absorb FilmDistrict

by     Posted 1 year, 28 days ago

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Some major restructuring is taking place at Focus Features.  Universal Pictures announced today that Focus will be absorbing FilmDistrict, with FilmDistrict founder and CEO Peter Schlessel taking over as Focus Features CEO from James Schamus.  The goal is to broaden the types of films that Focus distributes and increase the number of films released to as many as ten films per year.  All FilmDistrict pics released after January 2014 will be absorbed into the new Focus Features.

Focus Features will have only released five films this year—Admission, The Place Beyond the Pines, The World’s End, and Closed Circuit—and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of films the new iteration of the studio will be taking under its wing.  FilmDistrict had long focused on specialty genre films like Evil Dead and Drive, so hopefully the melding of the two studios will make for a fruitful marriage that doesn’t sideline the smaller pics for which Focus is known.  Hit the jump to read the full press release.

TIFF 2013: Focus Takes Jason Bateman Comedy BAD WORDS, Millennium Acquires FADING GIGOLO, and A24 Picks Up LOCKE with Tom Hardy

by     Posted 1 year, 51 days ago

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Following yesterday’s big acquisition of the crowd-favorite Can a Song Save Your Life? at the Toronto International Film Festival, we’ve got a few other acquisition stories to attend to:

  • After an intense bidding war, Focus Features has acquired worldwide rights to Jason Bateman’s directorial debut Bad Words for a whopping $7 million.  The spelling bee comedy earned strong marks after its TIFF debut and is slated for a 2014 release.  Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, and Ben Falcone (Bridesmaids) also star.
  • Director/star John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo has been picked up for worldwide rights by Millennium for $3 million, per Deadline.  Turturro stars as a man who aspires to be a professional Don Juan, and ends up being pimped out by his friend played by Woody Allen.
  • The relatively new company A24 has picked up the North American rights to director Steven Knight’s drama Locke, starring Tom Hardy as a man struggling to save his personal and professional life over the course of a car ride.

Hit the jump to read the press releases regarding Bad Words and Locke, and click here to catch up on all of our TIFF 2013 coverage thus far.

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB Release Date Moved Up a Month to November 1st

by     Posted 1 year, 65 days ago

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Focus Features is hoping to create a little breathing room amidst the awards season madness for director Jean-Marc Vallee’s 1980s-set AIDS drama Dallas Buyers Club, which just might put Matthew McConaughey in the running for a Best Actor Oscar nomination.  The film has been moved up over a month from its original release date of December 6th to November 1st, where it will receive a limited release in New York and Los Angeles before expanding nationwide in the following weeks.  Based on a true story, the film stars McConaughey as a Texas electrician who, after being diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, began to smuggle alternative and illegal treatments into the US and into the hands of other patients.  Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto also star.

This new release date puts a little distance between Dallas Buyers Club and the crowded end of November/beginning of December field, which is chock-full of awards contenders.  Before opening in theaters, though, Dallas Buyers Club will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in just over a week’s time.

Sam Taylor-Johnson to Direct FIFTY SHADES OF GREY; Felicity Jones in the Mix for Female Lead

by     Posted 1 year, 133 days ago

After first being first put into motion last year, a director has finally been set for Universal and Focus Features’ Fifty Shades of Grey movie.  In case you live in a hole and have somehow managed to remain blissfully unaware, the film is based on an erotic trilogy of books by author E.L. James that tracks the relationship between college graduate Anastasia Steele and a young business magnate, Christian Grey.  After rumors swirled about the likes of Gus Van Sant and Joe Wright being interested in taking the helm, a bit of a surprise choice has been settled on to direct the Fifty Shades of Grey movie: Nowhere Boy helmer Sam Taylor-Johnson.  Hit the jump for more.

KILL YOUR DARLINGS Set for October 18th Release; Matthew McConaughey’s DALLAS BUYERS CLUB Opens December 6th

by     Posted 1 year, 145 days ago

Release dates for a couple of highly anticipated indies have been set.  Per Exhibitor Relations, Sony Pictures Classics will release director John Krokidas’ excellent drama Kill Your Darlings in limited release on October 18th, with a nationwide expansion to follow.  The film focuses on the origins of the Beat movement and follows the friendships of Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster), and Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan).  I caught the pic at Sundance and it was one of my favorites of the festival; Radcliffe and DeHaan both give powerhouse performances and Krokidas announces himself as a serious talent to watch.  Read Matt’s review here and check out Steve’s interview with Krokidas here.

Additionally, Jean-Marc Vallee’s drama The Dallas Buyers Club has been given an awards season release date of December 6th by Focus Features.  Based on a true story, Matthew McConaughey plays a man who was given six months to live after a 1986 AIDS diagnosis, but instead survived six years on the medication he smuggled into the U.S. that he shared with other patients.  McConaughey will likely be gunning for an Oscar run, especially given that he looks like this in the film.

Edgar Wright’s THE WORLD’S END Moved Up Two Months to August 23rd

by     Posted 1 year, 224 days ago

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Good news, everyone!  Focus Features has moved the release of writer/director Edgar Wright’s next film, The World’s End, up nearly two months from October 25th to the nice summer date of August 23rd.  This is excellent news, as anticipation is high for the third and final entry in the “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy” from Wright, co-writer/star Simon Pegg, and star Nick Frost that began with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  The story for The World’s End centers on five childhood friends (played by Pegg, Frost, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine, and Martin Freeman) going through an epic pub crawl in order to reach the fabled pub, “The World’s End”.  But as they make their way to the pub, they discover that the fate of humankind is on the line.

The film will presumably still be opening in the U.K. on August 14th, but U.S. audiences now don’t have to wait two full months to see it.  The move to summer is a vote of confidence from Focus Features, and on the new release date the pic will face off against the YA adaptation The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and the critically hailed horror film You’re Next.

James Franco’s SNL Documentary SATURDAY NIGHT May Be Released by Focus Features

by     Posted 1 year, 240 days ago

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It was nigh on three years ago that one mister James Franco, a largely unknown film student at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, presented his behind-the-scenes documentary of Saturday Night Live to the delight of audiences at SXSW. Entitled Saturday Night the film charmed audiences and critics alike once again at Tribeca, (link 1) was then picked up by Adam Yauch’s Oscilloscope, and then… silence.

Until today that is. Hit the jump for news straight from the Franco’s mouth.

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, JAYNE MANSFIELD’S CAR, and STORM SURFERS 3D Get Distribution Deals

by     Posted 2 years, 50 days ago

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More acquisition news from the Toronto International Film Festival:

  • Focus Features picked up the U.S. rights to The Place Beyond the Pines, the drama written and directed Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine), led by Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes.
  • Anchor Bay will distribute the Billy Bob Thorton‘s Jayne Mansfield’s Car.  Thorton co-stars with Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Kevin Bacon, Katherine LaNasa, Ray Stevenson and Robert Patrick.
  • Arclight Films acquired Storm Surfers 3D, the Australian documentary (narrated by Toni Collette) about two-time world surfing champion Tom Carroll and big wave pioneer Ross Clarke-Jones.

Hit the jump for details on each project.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK’s Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti to Produce FIFTY SHADES OF GREY Film Adaptation

by     Posted 2 years, 112 days ago

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Though it’s tough to argue for the artistic merit of something that began as Twilight fan fiction written on the internet, we’re starting to get an idea of what the feature film adaptation of E.L. James’ “mommy porn” trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey might look like.  Producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti have been tapped by Universal and Focus Features to produce the big screen iteration of Fifty Shades of Grey.  Somewhat surprisingly the studios did not choose some tween pandering or hyper-commercial duo, as De Luca and Brunetti both produced David Fincher’s The Social Network, with De Luca also producing one of last year’s best films, Moneyball.  Focus Features CEO Donna Langley had this to say about the hiring:

“At its core, Fifty Shades of Grey is a complex love story, requiring a delicate and sophisticated hand to bring it to the big screen. Mike and Dana’s credits more than exemplify what we need in creative partners and we’re glad to have them as part of our team.”

Hit the jump for more.

George Clooney to Direct THE YANKEE COMANDANTE

by     Posted 2 years, 145 days ago

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George Clooney is adding another directorial project to his slate.  Focus Features has optioned David Grann’s New Yorker article The Yankee Comandante with Clooney attached to direct.  The project is, unsurprisingly, political in nature and tells the true story of an American named William Alexander Morgan who helped Fidel Castro and the Cuban rebels overthrow Fulgencio Batista.  Morgan became only the second foreigner to land the highly regarded title of Comandante, and throughout the struggle to overthrow Batista he maintained his anti-communist views and remained convinced that Castro was not a communist.  Hit the jump for more.

Production Begins on Gus Van Sant’s PROMISED LAND Starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski

by     Posted 2 years, 188 days ago

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Focus Features announced today that production has commenced on the drama Promised Land.  The screenplay was written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski, based on a story by Dave Eggers, and the project was poised to be Damon’s directorial debut before scheduling issues forced him to vacate the director’s chair. Damon’s Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant swooped in and swiftly took over directing duties, and now filming has begun.  Focus President Jeb Brody draws some very flattering comparisons when describing the project:

“Matt and John’s script is rich in Frank Capra-esque qualities, blending humor and heart while exploring the power of community in this day and age. An actor’s director like Gus will bring forth all the emotions in the story, which is a true passion project for everyone.”

In addition to Damon and Krasinski, the cast also includes Frances McDormand, Hal Holbrook, Rosemarie DeWitt, Scoot McNairy, and Titus Welliver.  Hit the jump to read the press release, which includes a plot synopsis.

New Images from MOONRISE KINGDOM, SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD, and PARANORMAN

by     Posted 2 years, 207 days ago

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Focus Features has released new images for Wes Anderson‘s Moonrise Kingdom (premiering at Cannes, and then opening in limited release on May 25th),  Seeking a Friend for the End of the World starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley (opening June 22nd), and the stop-motion animated film Paranorman (opening in 3D on August 17th).  Note that the image from Moonrise Kingdom is probably promotional and not from the movie.

Hit the jump to check out the images, and click on the corresponding links to learn more about each movie.  You can also find synopses after the jump.

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