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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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Production Begins on Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Posted May 18, 2011

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Starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley for writer/director Lorene Scafaria.

Cast, crew set for pre-apocalyptic comedy.

Production begins this week on Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, written and directed by Lorene Scafaria. The pre-apocalyptic comedy stars Golden Globe Award winner Steve Carell and Academy Award nominee Keira Knightley.

Confirmed as joining the two lead actors in the cast are – in alphabetical order – Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights), Adam Brody (Damsels in Distress), Roger Aaron Brown (The District), Tonita Castro (The Sarah Silverman Program), Rob Corddry (Mandate’s Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay), two-time Academy Award nominee Melinda Dillon (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Rob Huebel (Human Giant), Gillian Jacobs (Community), Derek Luke (Focus’ Catch a Fire), Melanie Lynskey (Focus’ Away We Go), T.J. Miller (Cloverfield), Mark Moses (Desperate Housewives), Patton Oswalt (United States of Tara), William Petersen (CSI), Lindsay Sloane (Horrible Bosses), and Bob Stephenson (Jericho).

Two-time Independent Spirit Award nominee Tim Orr is the film’s cinematographer; the production designer is Chris Spellman (Indian Paintbrush’s Jeff Who Lives At Home). Kristin Burke (Insidious) is costume designer; Zene Baker (Mandate’s 50/50) is editor.

Set in a too-near future, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World explores what people will do when humanity’s last days are at hand. Can one man find his greatest love at the worst possible time? As the respective journeys of Dodge (Mr. Carell) and Penny (Ms. Knightley) converge, the two spark to each other and their outlooks – if not the world’s – brighten.

Ms. Scafaria, who wrote the original screenplay, is making her feature directorial debut with the film. She wrote the screenplay adaptation for the 2008 feature Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, also for Mandate, which starred Michael Cera and Kat Dennings.

Focus Features holds U.S. distribution rights to Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, which is being co-financed by Indian Paintbrush and Mandate Pictures. The movie is being produced by Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe Award winner Steve Golin and Joy Gorman of Anonymous Content; and by Indian Paintbrush’s Steven Rales and Mark Roybal. Mandate Pictures’ Nathan Kahane and Nicole Brown are executive producers; Mandate’s Kelli Konop and Indian Paintbrush’s Jeff Sommerville are co-producers. Lionsgate is handling international sales on the title.

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Universal Networks International Supports Focus Features’ Africa First Initiative

Posted May 16, 2011

Universal Channel Africa to air winning short films from program.

Submissions period opens today for 2011 entries.

Universal Networks International announced today its support for Focus Features’ unique Africa First initiative that brings African filmmakers to industry attention. Universal Channel in Africa will be promoting the initiative through an on-air campaign and on its website www.universalchannel.co.za.

The Africa First short film program, sponsored by Focus, annually awards five emerging African filmmakers $10,000 each towards pre-production, production, or post-production of their short film. This year, the submissions period begins today and runs through to Monday, 22 August, 2011.

Universal Channel Africa, which is available on DStv Compact & DStv Premium, will air a selection of the short films completed through the program including Un transport en commun (Saint Louis Blues), directed by Dyana Gaye (from Senegal), which follows a journey from Dakar with seven taxi passengers telling of destinies and lives through song.

The uniquely conceived initiative, with funds earmarked exclusively for emerging filmmakers of African nationality and residence, is, for the fourth 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.

The five filmmakers selected this year will be notified in late September 2011 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.

Complete details on Africa First – including application information – can be accessed year-round at www.focusfeatures.com/africafirst.

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Focus Features Acquires Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World

Posted May 09, 2011

SAF Acquisition

Focus Features acquires domestic distribution rights to Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, Lorene Scafaria pre-apocalyptic comedic romance starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley.

Indian Paintbrush and Mandate Pictures are co-financing with filming beginning this month on Anonymous Content production.

Focus Features has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, written and to be directed by Lorene Scafaria. Indian Paintbrush and Mandate Pictures are co-financing the movie. The contemporary comedic romance stars Golden Globe Award winner Steve Carell and Academy Award nominee Keira Knightley. Filming begins this month in Los Angeles. Focus CEO James Schamus made the announcement today.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is being produced by Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe Award winner Steve Golin and Joy Gorman of Anonymous Content; and by Indian Paintbrush’s Steven Rales and Mark Roybal. Mandate Pictures’ Nathan Kahane and Nicole Brown are executive producers; Mandate’s Kelli Konop and Indian Paintbrush’s Jeff Sommerville are co-producers. Lionsgate is handling international sales on the title.

Set in a too-near future, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World explores what people will do when humanity’s last days are at hand. Can one man find his greatest love at the worst possible time? As the respective journeys of Dodge (Mr. Carell) and Penny (Ms. Knightley) converge, the two spark to each other and their outlooks – if not the world’s – brighten.

Ms. Scafaria, who wrote the original screenplay, is making her feature directorial debut with the film. She wrote the screenplay adaptation for the 2008 feature Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, also for Mandate, which starred Michael Cera and Kat Dennings.

Mr. Schamus commented, “Lorene has created a very funny story about the human condition, and about how love is the only thing that can save us all. We’re excited to be partnering with Indian Paintbrush and Mandate, and working with Lorene on her directorial debut – she’s an extraordinary talent who is particularly adept at drawing interesting and dynamic characters and their worlds.”

Ms. Scafaria added, “This story has been many years in the making and I couldn’t ask for a better team of people to help bring it to life. I’m absolutely thrilled that Steve and Keira are joining me at the end of the world.”

Mr. Roybal said, “This epic and comedic love story is going to be the first of many wonderful films that Lorene will make, and everyone at Indian Paintbrush is proud to be here at the beginning.”

Ms. Gorman said, “Focus is the perfect distributor for intelligent, distinctive films like Seeking a Friend. Anonymous and Focus had great success together with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and we are thrilled to be in business with them again. It’s an honor for us to be producing Lorene’s directing debut and we couldn’t ask for a better team behind her than Focus, Mandate, and Indian Paintbrush.”

Mr. Carell has won Screen Actors Guild Awards as a member of the ensembles of the film Little Miss Sunshine and the television series The Office; he won a Golden Globe Award for his performance on the latter. Ms. Knightley has previously starred for Focus in Joe Wright’s Atonement and Pride & Prejudice; she was an Academy Award nominee for her performance in the latter.

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Focus Features and Laika reteam for two-picture distribution deal

Posted May 04, 2011

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CORALINE PARTNERS FOCUS FEATURES AND LAIKA RETEAM FOR TWO-PICTURE DISTRIBUTION DEAL

3D STOP-MOTION ANIMATED COMEDY THRILLER PARANORMAN OPENS AUGUST 17, 2012

Focus Features and LAIKA, the two companies behind the Academy Award-nominated animated feature Coraline are reteaming for LAIKA's next two projects. The first of the duo, ParaNorman, will be released nationwide on August 17th, 2012. The second, yet-to-be-named, picture will be released nationwide in 2014. Following the groundbreaking Coraline, ParaNorman is only the second stop-motion animated feature to be made in 3D. Focus CEO James Schamus and LAIKA President and CEO Travis Knight made the announcement today.

As on Coraline, Focus will hold worldwide distribution rights to the movies, and Universal Pictures International will release them overseas. Coraline is Focus' second-highest-grossing movie of all time, with over $75 million domestically. The picture earned Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics' Choice, and Academy Award 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.

Currently in production, ParaNorman is being directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler, from Mr. Butler's original screenplay. Mr. Fell was director of The Tale of Despereaux and Flushed Away. Mr. Butler was storyboard supervisor on Coraline and storyboard artist on Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. The voice cast includes Academy Award nominee Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Tempestt Bledsoe (The Cosby Show), Jeff Garlin (Toy Story 3), John Goodman (Monsters, Inc.), Bernard Hill (Titanic), Academy Award nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Leslie Mann (Rio), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (How to Train Your Dragon), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In), and Tony and Emmy Award winner Elaine Stritch (30 Rock).

In the comedy thriller, a small town comes under siege by zombies. Who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman (voiced by Mr. McPhee), who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he'll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst of all, moronic grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.

Arianne Sutner, animation producer on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and Travis Knight are producing ParaNorman. Academy Award winner Brian Van't Hul (King Kong, Coraline) is the movie's visual effects supervisor; Emmy Award winner Nelson
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Lowry (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride) is its production designer; and Tristan Oliver (Fantastic Mr. Fox, the Academy Award-winning Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) is the director of photography on ParaNorman.
 
Mr. Schamus commented, "Everyone at Focus is proud to be partnered with LAIKA again on their newest wondrous creations. Travis Knight is both an extraordinary businessman and a visionary artist who we know will shepherd these projects with imagination and originality. We're thrilled to have ParaNorman as our next movie together, one which marries the stunning visuals of 3D stop-motion with a compelling, heartfelt, and funny story anchored by a terrifically relatable underdog hero."
 
Mr. Knight added, "ParaNorman is a story of intense beauty and emotional truth. It's audacious, has genuine heart, and is funny as hell. We're incredibly excited to share this wonderful story with the world.  And we're privileged to work again with Focus Features, with whom we share a commitment to bold, distinctive, and enduring films.  LAIKA and Focus are truly kindred spirits. James Schamus and his extraordinary team have built their reputation on original thinking, old-fashioned muscle, and an unerring fidelity to creatively rich and thematically challenging cinema. We're thrilled to extend the relationship that began with Coraline and look forward to being a part of the Focus/Universal family for years to come."

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Focus Features Acquires Worldwide Rights to Moonrise Kingdom.

Posted May 02, 2011

Focus Features acquires worldwide rights to Moonrise Kingdom, new Wes Anderson feature starring Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman;

Production underway on Indian Paintbrush Presentation

NEW YORK, May 2, 2011 – Focus Features has acquired worldwide distribution rights to Moonrise Kingdom, the new feature from two-time Academy Award nominee Wes Anderson. Indian Paintbrush is presenting the American Empirical Pictures production, which Mr. Anderson is directing from an original screenplay that he wrote with Roman Coppola. Filming has begun, and Focus Features International (FFI) will commence international sales on the title at this month’s Cannes International Film Festival. Focus CEO James Schamus made the announcement today.

Moonrise Kingdom is being produced by Mr. Anderson, Scott Rudin, Indian Paintbrush’s Steven Rales, and American Empirical’s Jeremy Dawson. Previously, Indian Paintbrush executive-produced and co-financed Mr. Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Darjeeling Limited, both also produced by Mr. Rudin.

Set on an island off the coast of New England in the 1960s, Moonrise Kingdom follows a young boy and girl falling in love. When they are moved to run away together, various factions of the town mobilize to search for them and the town is turned upside down – which might not be such a bad thing. Bruce Willis plays the town sheriff; two-time Academy Award nominee Edward Norton is cast as a camp leader; Academy Award nominee Bill Murray and Academy Award winner Frances McDormand portray the young girl’s parents; the cast also includes Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman. The young boy and girl are played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.

Mr. Schamus commented, “One of the world’s most distinctive filmmakers, Wes crafts witty and emotionally affecting pictures. The stellar cast will bring his and Roman’s fanciful script to life, and audiences will enjoy their trip back in time to this Kingdom. Everyone at Focus is pleased to be working with Wes and partnering with Indian Paintbrush.”

Indian Paintbrush, a film development/production/finance company, is in pre-production on the romantic comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, written and to be directed by Lorene Scafaria with Steve Carell and Keira Knightley starring. Currently in production is the Untitled David Chase Project with James Gandolfini, Brad Garrett, Bella Heathcote, and Jack Huston starring for the writer/director. Indian Paintbrush is in post-production on Jeff Who Lives At Home, written and directed by Jay and Mark Duplass, starring Jason Segel, Susan Sarandon, Ed Helms, and Judy Greer, which will be released by Paramount Pictures. Recently, Indian Paintbrush and Paramount acquired Drake Doremus’ Like Crazy, which took home the Grand Jury Prize for Drama as well as a Special Grand Jury Prize for star Felicity Jones at the Sundance Film Festival; the love story also stars Anton Yelchin and Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence.

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