Posted by Peter Bowen | March 17, 2015
Focus Features has acquired the North American distribution rights to SUFFRAGETTE, directed by Sarah Gavron from a script written by Abi Morgan, for a Fall 2015 domestic release. SUFFRAGETTE is a moving drama that will empower all who are striving for equal rights in our own day and age. The stirring story, inspired by the early-20th-century campaign by the suffragettes for the right of women to vote, centers on Maud (played by Carey Mulligan), a working wife and mother who comes to realize that she must fight for her dignity both at home and in her workplace. Realizing that she is not alone, she becomes an activist alongside other brave women from all walks of life. The early efforts at resistance were passive but as the women faced increasingly aggressive police action, the suffragettes become galvanized - risking their very lives to ensure that women's rights would be recognized and respected. In addition to Mulligan, the cast includes Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw, Anne-Marie Duff, Brendan Gleeson, and Meryl Streep. Peter Schlessel, CEO of Focus Features, said, "SUFFRAGETTE is a story that will resonate with men and women across the generations; it is about parents and children, courage and dedication, and making hard choices. Sarah, Abi, Alison and Faye are women who represent an amazing convergence of filmmaking talent. We're proud to partner with Pathé to bring this powerful drama to audiences worldwide."
Posted by Peter Bowen | March 4, 2015
Focus Features's CEO Peter Schlessel announced today that THE DANISH GIRL will be released by Focus Features in exclusive engagements in New York and Los Angeles beginning Friday, November 27, 2015 and by Universal Pictures International overseas.
THE DANISH GIRL, directed by Academy Award winner Tom Hooper, is the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Einar and Gerda Wegener (being portrayed, respectively, by Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander), whose marriage and work are cast into the unknown when Einar begins a groundbreaking journey to become one of the world's first transgender women, Lili Elbe. THE DANISH GIRL has been adapted into a screenplay by BAFTA Award nominee Lucinda Coxon, based on the novel of the same name by David Ebershoff. The film's cast also includes Matthias Schoenaerts (The Drop), Ben Whishaw (Skyfall), and Amber Heard (The Rum Diary). Mr. Schlessel commented, "In the tradition of Focus' history of epic and moving love stories, THE DANISH GIRL promises to be unforgettable. Tom Hooper is an extraordinary storyteller who always elicits beautiful performances from his actors. We are so pleased to be working with Eddie Redmayne again after our shared success with Working Title on THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING."
Posted by Peter Bowen | December 22, 2014
The magic continues. LAIKA and Focus Features, the companies behind Coraline, ParaNorman 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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
Posted by NicoleWoods | September 30, 2014
Posted by Peter Bowen | September 29, 2014
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.