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Focus Features is part of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. Comcast Corporation owns a controlling 51% interest in NBCUniversal, with GE holding a 49% stake.

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Focus Features Confirms Dates for Four Movies for 2011 Release

Posted May 26, 2010

NEW YORK, May 26th, 2010 – Focus Features today announced the first wave of its domestic theatrical release slate for calendar year 2011.


The Eagle of the Ninth
will open nationwide on Friday, February 25th, 2011
. The Roman epic adventure, currently in post-production, is directed by Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald and produced by Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominee Duncan Kenworthy. Jeremy Brock, BAFTA Award-winning screenwriter of Mr. Macdonald’s 2006 film The Last King of Scotland, has adapted the screenplay from Rosemary Sutcliff’s classic novel of the same name. The Eagle of the Ninth is set in the dangerous world of second-century Britain. In 140 AD, twenty years after the unexplained disappearance of the entire Ninth Legion in the mountains of Scotland, young centurion Marcus Aquila (played by Channing Tatum) arrives from Rome to solve the mystery and restore the reputation of his father, the commander of the Ninth. Accompanied only by his British slave Esca (Jamie Bell), Marcus sets out across Hadrian’s Wall into the uncharted highlands of Caledonia – to confront its savage tribes, make peace with his father’s memory, and retrieve the lost legion’s golden emblem, the Eagle of the Ninth. The movie also stars Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong, and Tahar Rahim.

Jane Eyre will begin its platform release in selected cities on Friday, March 11th, 2011. The film based on Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel just wrapped principal photography and is directed by Cary Fukunaga, whose debut feature was Focus’ award-winning Sin Nombre. Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Juid Dench, Sally Hawkins, Tamzin Merchant, and Imogen Poots star in the romantic drama. In the story, Jane Eyre (Ms. Wasikowska) flees Thornfield House, where she works as a governess for wealthy Edward Rochester (Mr. Fassbender). The isolated and imposing residence – and Mr. Rochester’s coldness – have sorely tested the young woman’s resilience, forged years earlier when she was orphaned. As Jane reflects upon her past and recovers her natural curiosity, she will return to Mr. Rochester – and the terrible secret that he is hiding…The screenplay adaptation is by Moira Buffini; Ruby Films’ Alison Owen, an Academy Award nominee for Elizabeth, and Paul Trijbits are producing Jane Eyre. Christine Langan, Creative Director of BBC Films, is executive-producing for the BBC.

Hanna will open nationwide on Friday, April 8th, 2011, and wraps production next month on location in Europe. BAFTA Award winner Joe Wright, whose films include Focus’ Atonement and Pride & Prejudice, is directing the movie. Hanna stars Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan, Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett, and Eric Bana. Hanna (Ms. Ronan) is a teenage girl. Uniquely, she has the strength, the stamina, and the smarts of a solider; these come from being raised by her father (Mr. Bana), an ex-CIA man, in the wilds of Finland. Living a life unlike any other teenager, her upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one; sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe while eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own (Ms. Blanchett). As she nears her ultimate target, Hanna faces startling revelations about her existence and unexpected questions about her humanity. Hanna also stars Jason Flemyng, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, and Martin Wuttke. Seth Lochhead wrote the initial screenplay and has written subsequent drafts, as have David Farr, Joe Penhall, and Mr. Wright. Academy Award nominee Leslie Holleran (Chocolat) is producing Hanna with the team of Marty Adelstein and Scott Nemes.

One Day will open in the third quarter of 2011, and will star Academy Award nominee Anne Hathaway. Production on the movie will commence in July, under the direction of Lone Scherfig, who most recently helmed the Best Picture Academy Award nominee An Education. David Nicholls has completed adapting the screenplay, based on his acclaimed novel of the same name. Emma (Ms. Hathaway) and Dexter meet on the night of their graduation – July 15th, 1988. She is a working-class girl of principle and ambition who dreams of making the world a better place. He is a wealthy charmer who dreams that the world will be his playground. But where will they be on this day next year, and the year after that? Over 20 years, we check in on Emma and Dexter every July 15th, and watch as their friendship ebbs and flows with the passing of the years. Through love and loss, heartbreak and success, hopes fulfilled and dreams shattered, these two souls experience the sometimes wonderful, sometimes tragic, often hysterical but always moving, grandeur of life. Somewhere along their journey, they realize that sometimes what you are looking for has been right there in front of you all along.

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Focus Features International Sells Key Overseas Rights on Director Joe Wright's Adventure Thriller Hanna to Sony Pictures

Posted May 17, 2010

Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana Lead Cast

CANNES, May 16, 2010 – Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisition Group (SPWAG) has acquired, from Focus Features International (FFI), key international rights to Focus Features’ adventure thriller Hanna, directed by BAFTA Award winner Joe Wright and currently in its final month of filming in Europe for a 2011 release. Focus president of international sales and distribution Alison Thompson and senior vice president of international sales Peter Kujawski made the announcement today.

Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan (of Focus’ Atonement, also directed by Mr. Wright), Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett (currently on screen in Robin Hood), and Eric Bana (Star Trek) star in Hanna.

Focus retains rights in North America, the UK, Australia/New Zealand, Greece, Israel, the Middle East, and CIS; and SPWAG has acquired all other international territories.

Ms. Thompson said, “Under Joe Wright’s direction, Hanna is shaping up as a dynamic and highly commercial film, and we are thrilled that Sony has been so quick to recognize its international potential.”

Sony Pictures Entertainment president of worldwide affairs Peter Schlessel added, “It is a pleasure to be in business with Focus on what looks like an intense thriller. Audiences around the world will love this movie.”

Hanna (played by Ms. Ronan) is a teenage girl. Uniquely, she has the strength, the stamina, and the smarts of a solider; these come from being raised by her father (Mr. Bana), an ex-CIA man, in the wilds of Finland. Living a life unlike any other teenager, her upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one; sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe while eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own (Ms. Blanchett). As she nears her ultimate target, Hanna faces startling revelations about her existence and unexpected questions about her humanity.

Focus Features and Focus Features International (www.focusfeatures.com) comprise a singular global company. This worldwide studio makes original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success. The company operates as Focus Features in North America, and as Focus Features International (FFI) in the rest of the world.

One of the world’s leading international sales agents, FFI also encompasses international distribution, marketing and publicity. FFI has the special ability to tailor international distribution to suit each film, whether licensing distribution rights to independent companies, or securing distribution through Universal Pictures International.

FFI distributes up to 10 titles annually, approximately half of which are from Focus’ considerable domestic production/release slate and half of which come from partners across the globe. In addition to Hanna, the FFI slate being sold at Cannes includes Robert Redford’s The Conspirator, starring James McAvoy, Robin Wright, and Evan Rachel Wood; Cary Fukunaga’s romantic drama Jane Eyre, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender; the romance One Day, to be directed by Lone Scherfig and adapted by David Nicholls from his novel of the same name; and two films world-premiering in competition at the Festival: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful, starring Javier Bardem, and Another Year, from writer/director Mike Leigh and starring Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, and Ruth Sheen.

Focus Features, Focus Features International, and Universal Pictures International are part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.

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Writer/Director Courtney Hunt (Frozen River) at work on next movie, for Focus Features

Posted May 17, 2010

WAM Films’ Stephanie Danan and Alain Chabat producing

CANNES, May 15, 2010 – Academy Award-nominated writer/director Courtney Hunt (Frozen River) is planning her next movie at Focus Features. The untitled project, to be produced by Wam Films’ Stephanie Danan and Alain Chabat, is based on the 1999 French-language feature film Ressources humaines (Human Resources) directed by Laurent Cantet and written by Mr. Cantet with Gilles Marchand. Worldwide rights to the new film will be held by Focus. The announcement was made today by Focus CEO James Schamus.

Ms. Hunt is already at work scripting the adaptation, to be set in contemporary America while following the original feature’s template. The drama will chart the professional and personal interactions between a new arrival at a factory, charged with making personnel changes, and the working-class people there with whom the recent business school graduate has had a long history – one which is unlikely to circumvent the current economic realities. With cuts to be made, can any choice be the right choice?

Focus senior vice president, production Kahli Small is supervising the project with Focus director of production development Samantha Taylor Pickett for Focus president of production John Lyons.

Mr. Schamus said, “In Frozen River, Courtney Hunt, with extraordinary empathy and skill, depicted the lives of real Americans rarely shown in Hollywood movies – all the while keeping audiences riveted. We’re proud to join her on her latest project, and we’re pleased to be collaborating with our longtime friends at Wam Films.”

Ms. Hunt’s 2008 feature debut as writer/director, Frozen River, earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and won the Best Film prize from the Gotham Awards; the film’s star Melissa Leo received Academy Award and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Best Actress, among other honors.

Ms. Danan and Mr. Chabat are producing partners in the Los Angeles-based Wam Films, a subsidiary of Mr. Chabat’s France-based production company Chez Wam, which produced Focus’ current release Babies. Wam Films is in post-production on A Thousand Words, starring Eddie Murphy for director Brian Robbins.

Focus Features and Focus Features International (www.focusfeatures.com) comprise a singular global company. This worldwide studio makes original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success. The company operates as Focus Features in North America, and as Focus Features International (FFI) in the rest of the world.

Current and upcoming Focus Features releases include Greenberg, from writer/director Noah Baumbach and starring Ben Stiller; the unique nonfiction feature Babies, directed by Thomas Balmès; Anton Corbijn’s suspense thriller The American, starring George Clooney; writer/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story; Academy Award-winning writer/director Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere; Kevin Macdonald’s Roman epic adventure The Eagle of the Ninth, starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, and Mark Strong; Joe Wright’s adventure thriller Hanna, starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, and Eric Bana; Cary Fukunaga’s romantic drama Jane Eyre, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender; and Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right, starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo.

Focus Features and Focus Features International are part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.

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Guillermo Arriaga adapting THE TIGER

Posted May 12, 2010

Darren Aronofsky, Brad Pitt to produce film from John Vaillant book for Focus Features & Random House Films

CANNES, May 11, 2010 – As a co-production in their unique partnership, Random House Inc.’s Random House Films division and Focus Features are developing the adventure thriller The Tiger, which Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga (Babel) is adapting for producer Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) and his Protozoa Pictures from John Vaillant’s upcoming nonfiction book The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival.

Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment will also produce the feature version; worldwide rights will be held by Focus. The announcement was made today by Focus CEO James Schamus and Random House Films President Peter Gethers.

The book, to be published on August 24th by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House, Inc., takes place on the Siberian plain, where human development is encroaching on the tigers’ habitat – and one tiger turns on the intruders. With townspeople being tracked and hunted with an almost supernatural power, a conservationist game warden must face down the tiger. It is a fight that only one of them can win.

No director has yet been confirmed for the film version. Producers on the feature will be Protozoa’s Mark Heyman and Ari Handel, with Mr. Aronofsky; and Plan B’s Jeremy Kleiner and Dede Gardner, with Mr. Pitt. Focus senior vice president, production Kahli Small is supervising the project with Focus director of production Matthew Plouffe for Focus president of production John Lyons and Valerie Cates, Executive Story Editor, Random House Films.

Mr. Schamus said, “We’re delighted to be collaborating again with Guillermo Arriaga, one of the most compelling storytellers working today.”

Mr. Gethers added, “John Vaillant’s page-turning exploration of the dark and bright forces of nature will make for a thrilling moviegoing experience.”

Mr. Aronofsky most recently directed and produced, through Protozoa, The Wrestler, for which stars Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei received Academy Award nominations. His other films as director include Requiem for a Dream, for which lead actress Ellen Burstyn was an Academy Award nominee; and Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman, which is currently in post-production for release this fall.

Plan B has produced such films as Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, which won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director; and Ryan Murphy’s Eat, Pray, Love, starring Julia Roberts, which will be released nationwide in August.

Mr. Arriaga was an Academy Award nominee for his original screenplay of Babel, which starred Mr. Pitt; and a BAFTA Award nominee for his original screenplay of 21 Grams, also for Focus. He won the Best Screenplay award at the 2005 Cannes International Film Festival for The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, becoming the first Spanish-speaking recipient of the award. He is also a novelist and short stories writer whose work has been translated into 17 languages. He most recently wrote and directed The Burning Plain, starring Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger, and Jennifer Lawrence.

Mr. Arriaga said, “This is the first time I have adapted a screenplay, since I have previously only written original screenplays. I chose to adapt this story, first, because I have a profound love for the outdoors and the intense tension between man and nature which the book reflects; and, second, because of the great privilege of working with such accomplished filmmakers as Darren Aronofsky, Brad Pitt, and James Schamus.”

In the unique multi-year filmmaking partnership between Random House Films and Focus, the companies develop movies together and co-finance and co-produce a substantial slate of feature films for theatrical release, all based on books published by Random House imprints in North America and internationally. Random House Films and Focus jointly acquire film rights for the books and partner together on script development, director selection, all phases of production, and marketing and publicity. Films co-produced by Focus with Random House Films are jointly owned, with Focus holding worldwide distribution and sales rights.

Focus Features and Focus Features International (www.focusfeatures.com) comprise a singular global company. This worldwide studio makes original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success. The company operates as Focus Features in North America, and as Focus Features International (FFI) in the rest of the world.

Current and upcoming Focus Features releases include Greenberg, from writer/director Noah Baumbach and starring Ben Stiller; the unique nonfiction feature Babies, directed by Thomas Balmès; Anton Corbijn’s suspense thriller The American, starring George Clooney; writer/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story; Academy Award-winning writer/director Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere; Kevin Macdonald’s Roman epic adventure The Eagle of the Ninth, starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, and Mark Strong; Joe Wright’s adventure thriller Hanna, starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, and Eric Bana; Cary Fukunaga’s romantic drama Jane Eyre, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender; and Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right, starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo.

Focus Features and Focus Features International are part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.

Random House, Inc. (www.randomhouse.com), the U.S. division of Random House, the world’s largest trade book publisher, is home to many of the world’s foremost and most popular authors of adult and children’s books.  Random House has more than 120 publishing imprints in the U.S. and Canada, which publish books in hardcover, trade and mass market paperback, audio, electronic, digital, and other emerging formats.  More than fifty Random House authors have been awarded Nobel Prizes and the company’s books have won numerous Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, Newbery honors, and other major literary recognitions.

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Focus Features' Africa First program to Open 2010 Entry Period May 17th

Posted May 04, 2010

FOR THIRD YEAR, $10,000 IN FINANCING APIECE EARMARKED FOR NEW FILMMAKERS

NEW YORK, May 4th, 2010 – Building on the success of the program’s first two years, Focus Features will accept entries for a third year of its Africa First Program beginning Monday, May 17th and continuing through Monday, August 3rd. Focus CEO James Schamus made the announcement today.

The uniquely conceived initiative, with funds earmarked exclusively for emerging filmmakers of African nationality and residence, is for the third consecutive year offering eligible and participating filmmakers the chance to be awarded $10,000 in financing for pre-production, production, and/or post-production on their narrative short film made in continental Africa and tapping into the resources of the film industry there. The program also brings the filmmakers together with each other and with a renowned group of advisors, major figures in the African film world, for support and mentorship. Complete details on Africa First – including application information – can be accessed through www.focusfeatures.com/africafirst.

Past short films to come out of the program have been showcased at the Sundance, Toronto, and Berlin Film Festivals and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, among other venues worldwide. Africa First is supervised by producer Kisha Cameron-Dingle (…Sometimes in April), whose Completion Films company has a first-look and consulting deal with Focus, and who coordinates the Program’s submissions and evaluations with Focus director of production Matthew Plouffe. In addition to on-site work in Africa, the winning filmmakers of Africa First will visit New York City in the fall of 2010 for a weekend of one-on-one workshop discussions with each other; members of the advisory board of experts in African cinema; such Focus executives as Mr. Schamus and president of production John Lyons, covering topics like international distribution and the economics of studio financing; and Mrs. Cameron-Dingle and Mr. Plouffe.

Mr. Schamus said, “The entry period for the Africa First Program is when we seek out the next generation of filmmakers and seek to help them bring their dreams and visions to the screen.”

Mrs. Cameron-Dingle added, “Whether a thriller, musical, or sci-fi tale, films from the Africa First Program have generated audience and industry attention, and we want to keep cultivating that diversity of material and new talent.”

In 2008, the Africa First Program selected these filmmakers and their respective films; Mr. Edouard Bamporiki (from Rwanda) for Long Coat, Ms. Jenna Bass (from South Africa) for The Tunnel, Mr. Jan-Hendrik Beetge (from South Africa) for The Abyss Boys, Ms. Dyana Gaye (from Senegal) for N’Dar (a.k.a. St. Louis Blues), and Ms. Wanuri Kahiu (from Kenya) for Pumzi [Breath]. The winning filmmakers for 2009 were Mr. Stephen Abbott (from South Africa) for Dirty Laundry, Mr. Matt Bishanga (from Uganda) for A Good Catholic Girl, Mr. Daouda Coulibaly (from Mali) for Tinye So, Mr. Matthew Jankes (from South Africa) for Umkhungo, and Ms. Rungano Nyoni (from Zambia) for The Adventures of Mwansa the Great.

This year, the submissions period begins on May 16th, 2010 and runs through July 17th, 2010. The five filmmakers selected will be notified in late September 2010 and will retain the copyrights and the distribution rights to their completed shorts, with the exception of North American rights; Focus retains those, as well as the right of first negotiation to productions derived from the shorts, such as a feature-length expansion.

Completion is developing feature, documentary, and television projects. Its president, Mrs. Cameron-Dingle, previously worked as director of development at Walden Media, and as an executive at New Line Cinema, where she oversaw the development and production of Spike Lee’s Bamboozled.

The Africa First advisory board members are Ms. Mahen Bonetti, founder and executive director of the African Film Festival; journalist and documentary filmmaker Ms. Jihan El-Tahiri; Ms. June Givanni, who for four years programmed the Toronto International Film Festival’s Planet Africa series; Mr. Clarence Hamilton, script editor and Head of Production at NFVF; Ms. Sharifa Johka, film programmer and independent producer; Mr. Pedro Pimenta, producer and manager of training programs throughout South Africa; and Mr. Keith Shiri, founder/director of the Africa at the Pictures film festival in the U.K.

Focus Features and Focus Features International (www.focusfeatures.com) comprise a singular global company. This worldwide studio makes original and daring films that challenge the mainstream to embrace and enjoy voices and visions from around the world that deliver global commercial success. The company operates as Focus Features in North America, and as Focus Features International (FFI) in the rest of the world.

Current and upcoming Focus Features releases include Greenberg, from writer/director Noah Baumbach and starring Ben Stiller; the unique nonfiction feature Babies, directed by Thomas Balmès; Anton Corbijn’s suspense thriller The American, starring George Clooney; writer/directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story; Academy Award-winning writer/director Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere; Kevin Macdonald’s Roman epic adventure The Eagle of the Ninth, starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, and Mark Strong; Joe Wright’s adventure thriller Hanna, starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, and Eric Bana; Cary Fukunaga’s romantic drama Jane Eyre, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender; and Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right, starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo.

Focus Features and Focus Features International are part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.

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