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LAIKA and Focus team up for KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS

Posted by Peter Bowen | December 22, 2014

The magic continues. LAIKA and Focus Features, the companies behind CoralineParaNorman and The Boxtrolls, today announced production on their fourth collaboration, Kubo and the Two Strings. LAIKA President & CEO Travis Knight and Focus CEO Peter Schlessel made the announcement today.

Based on an original screenplay by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler (ParaNorman) and marking the directorial debut of Mr. Knight, Kubo And The Two Strings is a sweeping, swashbuckling adventure set in a mythical ancient Japan that will be brought to life with the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, Brenda Vaccaro and Art Parkinson (who will voice the character of Kubo). In the epic fantasy, scruffy, kindhearted Kubo ekes out a humble living while devotedly caring for his mother in their sleepy shoreside village. It is a quiet existence - until a spirit from the past catches up with him to enforce an age-old vendetta. Suddenly on the run from gods and monsters, Kubo's chance for survival rests on finding the magical suit of armor once worn by his fallen father, the greatest samurai the world has ever known. Summoning courage, Kubo embarks on a thrilling odyssey as he faces his family's history, navigates the elements, and bravely fights for the earth and the stars."

The movie, slated to open domestically on August 19th, 2016, will be first movie in the new three-picture partnership between LAIKA and Focus. "Kubo and the Two Strings is a rare gem," said Mr. Knight. "It's a gripping yarn woven from Japanese folktales and mythology, with lost civilizations, mystical origami, noble heroes, star-crossed lovers, and blood-curdling monsters. At once epic and intimate, Kubo is a funny, intense, and ultimately uplifting fairy tale draped in some of the most bizarre and exciting imagery I've ever seen. Most importantly, it's deeply moving. It's a story that means something, a story that deserves to be told. In short, it's a LAIKA movie. And with a poetic script, sublime cast, and our freakishly talented artists and craftspeople, Kubo will be a strange, stirring, and altogether stunning film. I can't wait to share it with the world." "LAIKA raises the bar on animated movies as a creative art," said Mr. Schlessel. "Each picture Focus does with them is unique yet identifiably theirs. Travis and Arianne have convened a wonderful group of animators, actors, and artisans to tell a story that moviegoers of all ages will be transported by."


NY Times video: James Marsh Directing

Posted by Peter Bowen | October 29, 2014

The New York Times speaks with director James Marsh about what it was like to direct the story of Stephen and Jane Hawking in THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING. Fascinating video piece. 


Jeremy Renner & Michael Cuesta All In with Chris Hayes

Posted by Peter Bowen | October 20, 2014

On MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes," KILL THE MESSENGER star/producer Jeremy Renner and director Michael Cuesta talk with Hayes about Gary Webb and the imporantance of getting his story out and onto the big screen with this movie. Smart stuff. 


Jon Stewart and Jeremy Renner Talk KILL THE MESSENGER

Posted by Peter Bowen | October 10, 2014

Jeremy Renner came on the The Daily Show to talk with Jon Stewart about KILL THE MESSENGER, and its amazing story about investigative reporter Gary Webb - and what happened to him. 


Rosemarie DeWitt on Today Show

Posted by Peter Bowen | October 9, 2014

Rosemarie DeWitt showed up on the Today Show to chat with the whole gang about what it was like to play Jeremy Renner's wife in KILL THE MESSENGER. See what she says. 


THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING Soundtrack Available 11/4

Posted by Peter Bowen | October 9, 2014

Back Lot Music/Universal Music announces the 11/4 release of THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING soundtrack -- both digitall and on CD -- with a score from acclaimed Icelandic Composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. Jóhannsson, who met TTOE director James Marsh in 2010, was fascinating by both the director and the subject. "I'm a big fan of James as director - ever since I saw Man on Wire years ago," recalls Jóhannsson, "and I have also always been fascinated by Stephen Hawking, both as a writer and theorist as well as a human being. I approached the music very much on emotional terms."  To create his score, Jóhannsson played with conceits inherent in the story. "It's a film about an astrophysicist, but it's in essence a love story," explains Jóhannsson. The music stems in a way from the tension between the Hawking the man and Hawking the scientist. Most of the score is derived from very simple elements that are announced in the first frames of the film -- a four-note piano ostinato which then slowly expands into more complex forms and appears and re-appears evolved, deconstructed and re-assembled in various renderings throughout the film."


KILL THE MESSENGER Soundtrack On iTunes

Posted by Peter Bowen | October 8, 2014

Get the pulsing score for KILL THE MESSENGER today. Nathan Johnson, who previous distinguished himself with striking scores for films likeLooper and Brick, composed the music for Michael Cuesta's political thriller starring Jeremy Renner. You can score your own copy of the soundtrack from Back Lot Music now at iTunes


Jeremy Renner joins Jimmy Fallon to talk KILL THE MESSENGER

Posted by Peter Bowen | October 8, 2014

Jeremy Renner came on The Tonight Show to talk with Jimmy Falllon about why KILL THE MESSENGER was his dream project. See why.  


Jeremy Renner on Gary Webb's Legacy

Posted by Peter Bowen | October 7, 2014

In this special featurette for The Hollywood Reporter, Jeremy Renner joins the KILL THE MESSENGER filmmakers and people who knew Webb to talk about this real life reporter and his legacy. Fascinating. 


LAIKA and Focus Features Sign Up for Three More Movies

Posted by Peter Bowen | October 3, 2014

With THE BOXTROLLS in cinemas now, Focus CEO Peter Schlessel and LAIKA President and CEO Travis Knight announced that the two companies are joining forces for three more animated films. Focus opened THE BOXTROLLS nationwide last weekend to a $17.3 million gross, marking the biggest debut yet for a LAIKA movie. THE BOXTROLLS follows the successful and acclaimed Focus and LAIKA animated films CORALINE (2009) and PARANORMAN (2012), each of which grossed over $100 million worldwide. CORALINE earned Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics' Choice, and Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature Film; and was named one of the year's 10 Best Films by the American Film Institute (AFI) with an AFI Award. PARANORMAN was cited as best animated feature film by more critics' groups than any other 2012 animated feature; and earned BAFTA, Critics' Choice, and Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature Film. Mr. Schlessel commented, "I am very pleased to continue our relationship with our friends at LAIKA. Travis and his company have elevated the art of animated films and we are proud to be part of their success." "Focus and LAIKA are kindred spirits," said Mr. Knight. "Over eight years and three films we've forged an incredible bond over a shared love for, and commitment to, bold, distinctive, and enduring stories. Peter and his superlative team have created a welcoming home for original voices and enriching, challenging filmmaking. They're the bravest studio in the world. We look forward to many ongoing cinematic adventures with our Focus/Universal family. The best is yet to come."

Ali punching Joe Frazier

Muhammad Ali's Daughters Reveal Intimate Details About Their Dad

Posted by NicoleWoods | September 30, 2014

ET was with two of Muhammad Ali's daughters, Maryum and Hana, who shared personal stories and gave us an update on their dad's health. "My father has a lot of sides," said Maryum. "You hear about the fights. You don't hear about family that much and what that meant to him." Ali's daughters play a prominent role in the documentary I Am Ali, out October 10, which is told through Ali's personal audio journals as well as interviews and testimonials from the boxing le

Alan Rickman's A LITTLE CHAOS comes to Focus Features

Posted by Peter Bowen | September 29, 2014

Focus Features has acquired North American distribution rights to A LITTLE CHAOS, directed by Alan Rickman from a screenplay he wrote with Alison Deegan and Jeremy Brock. The film, which had its world premiere as the closing-night film at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, will be released by Focus in North America on March 27, 2015.  A LITTLE CHAOS follows Sabine (Kate Winslet), a strong-willed landscape designer who challenges sexual and class barriers when she is chosen to

The Art of THE BOXTROLLS Book Now Available

Posted by Peter Bowen | September 23, 2014

After you see THE BOXTROLLS, you can take home a memory of the experience with a copy of Philip Brotherton's The Art of the Boxtrolls, a handsome book filled with color illustrations that captures the art and heart of the lastest stop-motion animation adventure from LAIKA. Indeed LAIKA CEO Travis Knight lends his voice to the book's preface. The book's author Philip Brotherton is art director at LAIKA and has worked on all of the studio's films including the Oscar-nominated CORALINE and PARANORMAN as well as its newest offering, THE BOXTROLLS. In the book, THE BOXTROLL's artists and craftspeople offer insights into the creativity, ingenuity, and meticulous work that went into building and animating THE BOXTROLLS's world, and the book is illustrated with gorgeous concept art, puppets, props, and set photos. 


You can order the book directly from Chronicle Books here.


THE BOXTROLLS Soundtrack out September 23

Posted by Peter Bowen | September 19, 2014

On September 23, Back Lot Music will release THE BOXTROLLS soundtrack on CD and digitally, with an orignal score by Dario Marianelli and music from Eric Idle. Marianelli (who previously won an Oscar for his music for ATONEMENT) worked closely with the animators to create a wonderful synergy between action and music. "Dario started work when most of the movie was still in the storyboard phase," explains co-diector Graham Annable, "and he was able to ask for a few more seconds here and there to let his score breathe - and truly support key moments in the movie." And the composer went all out in Boxtrolls style to get the sound just right. "The orchestra made use, at one time or another, of a theremin, a saw, a music box, toy piano, dulcimer, accordion, rubbed glasses, washboards, broken light bulbs, forks and knives, and a typewriter," said Marianelli.

In addition, there is an orignal song, "The Boxtrolls Song," by Eric Idle (of Monty Python fame). Idle explained, "I do like telling a story in song. From the artwork that the production sent me, I saw that this movie would have fresh and original characters. In context, this would be a song that the people of Cheesebridge sort of knew. So the song had to have a catchy hook to anchor it as well as quite a strong chorus. I started writing, and playing on my guitar, and came up with something that aimed for a Kurt Weill feel."

Rounding out the album are three tracks - old and new - from the Portland-based band Loch Lomond. The co-ed sextet distinctly incorporates harmonic vocals, mandolin, theremin, bass clarinet, and all manner of exclamatory percussion minutia to play off the distinct, arresting voice of lead singer/multi-instrumentalist Ritchie Young. You can preview the music now at iTunes Music here


Essence & The Sweet Science show Two Sides in I AM ALI

Posted by Peter Bowen | September 18, 2014

News about the new doc I AM ALI is heating up. On September 6, Essence's Lauren Turner wrote about the emotional punch the film delivers in terms of the Ali family. As Ali's daughter Maryum said, "You don't hear about family that much, and what that meant to him."  Her sister, Hana, reveals how, "My father gave me some audio tapes that he made when we were young in the seventies," and how that new material formed an audio spine for the doc. On the sports side, the boxing site The Sweet Science is also pumped about I AM ALI. Michael Woods looks at what is special about this new film, and how it "just might do the trick on shedding some light on the most acclaimed athlete of any and all times." 


THE BOXTROLLS game Slide 'N' Sneak Ready to Play

Posted by Peter Bowen | September 18, 2014

Like to play? The official mobile game for THE BOXTROLLS is now available for iOS and coming to Android, announced LAIKA, Focus Features and RED Games.

The Boxtrolls: Slide 'n' Sneak shares the movie's spirit of innovation and visual integrity, and thereby achieves a level of quality that is unprecedented in mobile gaming. To emulate LAIKA's unique animation style in a touch screen experience, RED Games used traditional animation techniques to create interactive characters from images taken directly from the film, preserving all the details and textures in rich retina-quality graphics. The game utilizes the native gyroscope in many devices to provide a sense of depth - menu scenes twist and move as the user tilts the device, creating a parallax effect that is stunning.

To play, you journey through the world of Cheesebridge on a mission to rescue captured Boxtrolls from the devious Red Hats' factory lair! Run, jump, and slide to avoid unexpected Red Hat encounters and traps, and collect gears and cogs in over 30 increasingly difficult levels inspired by the movie's thrilling scenes. Receive a light bulb reward for completing a level successfully, or earn three for a perfect run. In order to progress to a new area of Cheesebridge, players need to collect a specific number of light bulbs and defeat the Red Hats.

To get started, download the game from iTunes now

Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton

Toronto: ‘Ruth & Alex’ Goes To Focus World

Posted by NicoleWoods | September 18, 2014

Focus World has picked up domestic rights to the Diane Keaton-Morgan Freeman picRuth & Alex following its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. Directed by Richard Loncraine (

'I Am Ali' Trailer Shows Muhammad Ali in a Whole New Light

Posted by NicoleWoods | September 11, 2014

'I Am Ali' Trailer Shows Muhammad Ali in a Whole New Light

By Dan Carson, Trending Lead Writer

The latest attempt to untangle this Gordian knot is I Am Ali—a documentary focusing on the boxer's inner circle of family, friends and former opponents.

An Focus World project, I Am Ali focuses on unreleased recordings of phone calls the former heavyweight title holder had with family members, friends and opponents during his boxing career.

A trailer for the movie has been released featuring bits and pieces of the exchanges. For a lack of a more eloquent endorsement, it's pretty damn cool.

Read the full article here.


Moviefone visits THE BOXTROLL set with Eggs

Posted by Peter Bowen | September 9, 2014

Isaac Hempstead-Wright (the voice of Eggs) talks to Moviefone's Drew Taylor on the set of THE BOXTROLL about the film and the amazing craft and love that went into creating the characters and their world. Watch. 



Posted by NicoleWoods | September 5, 2014

In Search of a Duck, and a Way Through That Awkward Age

‘A Birder’s Guide to Everything,’ Starring Ben Kingsley

“That’s the great thing about this field,” Lawrence Konrad (Ben Kingsley), a bird-watching fanatic, declares to a group of adolescent followers in “A Birder’s Guide to Everything.” “It doesn’t matter if you’re a high school kid on your bike, or if you’re an egghead like me with a boatload of degrees. Anybody can be a birder.”

Before the end of this smart, likable coming-of-age movie, the members of a high school’s Young Birder Society go on an expedition in search of the Labrador duck, a supposedly extinct species. The main character, 15-year-old David Portnoy (Kodi Smit-McPhee), snapped a blurry picture of the duck on the street where he lives in a New York suburb and showed it to Lawrence, who was intrigued. Once Lawrence joins them in the woods, David and his fellow birders, Timmy (Alex Wolff) and Peter (Michael Chen), worry that if they spot the duck, Lawrence will steal the credit.

Read the full New York Times review here