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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 Auctioning Off MOONRISE KINGDOM Costume to Benefit Variety The Children’s Charity

Posted May 31, 2012

Unique Costume from Acclaimed Movie Part of  Variety New York’s Online Auction

Focus Features is donating an original costume from its acclaimed new movie Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Anderson, to Variety the Children’s Charity of New York for Variety New York’s online auction which begins today via www.charitybuzz.com.

The costume is the Khaki Scouts of North America uniform worn by 12-year-old Sam Shakusky (played by Jared Gilman) in Moonrise Kingdom. After consulting with the director, costume designer Kasia Walicka Maimone and her department created every single element of the uniform, including activity buttons and hand-sewn insignia patches. The movie introduces Mr. Gilman and his fellow screen newcomer Kara Hayward, who joined their director and his stars Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Bob Balaban in world-premiering Moonrise Kingdom earlier this month at the Cannes International Film Festival. Focus opened the movie in New York and Los Angeles last Friday to rave reviews, posting the highest recorded per-theater average for a live-action movie released domestically, and expands it to additional cities throughout June.

The gift from Mr. Anderson and the worldwide film company will help Variety New York raise funds to support its work in the tri-state area transforming the lives of children through the arts.

Variety New York’s Executive Director Jessica Bynoe notes, “Variety has a strong history with the film and entertainment industry and we are excited to continue that tradition with this generous donation from Focus. Funds raised through this auction will help us change the lives of many more children by engaging them in the arts which greatly enhances their academic, career, and personal success.”

Variety New York is hosting this auction in conjunction with its annual “You’ve Gotta Have Heart” Awards Reception honoring Craig Zeltner, VP of Clearview Cinemas, at the International Center of Photography on Wednesday, June 6th, 2012. The event will be attended by over 300 supporters from the film and entertainment industry.

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Wes Anderson’s MOONRISE KINGDOM Posts Record Per-Theater Average for Non-Animated Feature

Posted May 28, 2012

Focus Features’ Moonrise Kingdom, the critically applauded new movie from director Wes Anderson, opened this past weekend and posted the highest recorded per-theater average for a live-action movie released domestically. Focus CEO James Schamus made the announcement today.

Surpassing the record set for a live-action (e.g., non-animated) feature in a regular theatrical run in December 2006 by Dreamgirls, with its $126,317 opening weekend average at 3 theaters, Moonrise Kingdom this past weekend averaged $130,752 at its 4 theaters for a total gross through yesterday (Sunday) of $523,006.00; the estimated 4-day weekend gross is $669,486.00, for a per-theater average of $167,371.00. Focus’ Brokeback Mountain, released in December 2005, had held the record prior to Dreamgirls. The Dreamgirls record was broken by Moonrise Kingdom in advance of today’s Memorial Day holiday grosses and averages, and therefore reflects an exact 3-day-to-3-day comparison.

Moonrise Kingdom world-premiered earlier this month as the opening-night film of the 2012 Cannes International Film Festival. The theaters currently playing Moonrise Kingdom are, in New York City, AMC Theatres’ Lincoln Square and Regal Cinemas’ Union Square Stadium 14; and, in Los Angeles, Pacific Theatres’ ArcLight Cinemas and Landmark Theatres’ The Landmark. Focus, which holds worldwide rights to the movie, will be adding theaters in additional cities domestically each weekend through June, expanding Moonrise Kingdom to several hundred screens.

Mr. Schamus said, “Moonrise Kingdom is a story of love’s improbable triumph, and for Wes Anderson and his team a labor of love from start to finish. How wonderful it is to congratulate him, on behalf of everyone at Focus, for this remarkable, record-breaking opening.”

Moonrise Kingdom is the new movie directed by two-time Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rushmore). Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of two 12-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore – and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in every which way. Bruce Willis plays the local sheriff, Captain Sharp. Edward Norton is a Khaki Scout troop leader, Scout Master Ward. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand portray the young girl’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bishop. The cast also includes Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Bob Balaban; and introduces Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the boy and girl. The movie, MPAA-rated “PG-13,” is written by Mr. Anderson & Roman Coppola. The producers are Mr. Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, and Jeremy Dawson.

In addition to Moonrise Kingdom, Focus’ summer slate includes Lorene Scafaria’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley, opening nationwide on Friday, June 22nd; Sam Fell and Chris Butler’s ParaNorman, the new 3D stop-motion comedy thriller from animation company LAIKA, opening nationwide on Friday, August 17th; Jamie Travis’ contemporary comedy For a Good Time, Call…, starring Ari Graynor and Lauren Anne Miller, opening in select cities on Friday, August 31st and expanding nationally on Friday, September 7th.

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Production Beginning on Focus Features’ ADMISSION

Posted May 14, 2012

Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Michael Sheen, Lily Tomlin
star in comedy/drama for director Paul Weitz.

Production begins this week in New York and New Jersey on Focus Features’ Admission, directed by Academy Award nominee Paul Weitz. Focus CEO James Schamus made the announcement today.

The comedy/drama stars Screen Actors Guild Award winner Tina Fey (30 Rock), Paul Rudd (soon to be seen in This is 40), BAFTA Award nominee Michael Sheen (The Queen), Golden Globe Award nominee Gloria Reuben (ER), Wallace Shawn (of the upcoming A Late Quartet), and Academy Award nominee Lily Tomlin (Nashville). The screenplay is adapted by Karen Croner (One True Thing) and Mr. Weitz from Jean Hanff Korelitz’s 2009 novel of the same name.

Mr. Weitz, an Academy Award nominee as one of the screenwriters of About a Boy, most recently adapted and directed Being Flynn for Focus. He is producing Admission with Andrew Miano, his partner in the production company Depth of Field, and Kerry Kohansky-Roberts (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist). Academy Award nominee Caroline Baron (Capote) is executive-producing the movie. Admission director of photography Declan Quinn, production designer Sarah Knowles, editor Joan Sobel, and costume designer Aude Bronson-Howard are all reteaming with Mr. Weitz following their work together on Being Flynn. Focus holds worldwide rights to Admission, and will commence sales at this month’s Cannes International Film Festival. Focus director of development & production Christopher Kopp is supervising Admission for president of production Jeb Brody.

In the movie, Ms. Fey is portraying Portia Nathan, an admissions officer at Princeton University. Evaluating thousands of hopeful college students, the exceedingly bright and driven woman lives her life by the book, both at work and in her relationship with a faculty colleague, Mark (Mr. Sheen). Visiting an experimental New Hampshire high school submitting applicants, Portia is caught off guard when its co-founder John Halsey (Mr. Rudd) turns out to have attended college with her. She is then floored when reminded of the life-altering decision that she made while still a student herself; she had a son, who she gave up for adoption, and who she now realizes may be one of John’s students, the precocious misfit Jeremiah. As Portia’s emotions surge forth, she finds her life turning upside down in embarrassing ways and begins to bend the admissions rules – in the hopes of getting Jeremiah on the best path while perhaps righting her own as well.

Mr. Schamus said, “Everyone at Focus is delighted to be continuing our collaboration with Paul Weitz, a truly humane filmmaker. As always, Paul has joined with an amazing cast, for a story that promises not only laughs and tears, but the deep pleasures of understanding and empathy.”

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Fifth Year of Focus Features’ Africa First Program

Posted May 08, 2012

Accepting Entries May 14th;
$10,000 in Financing Apiece Earmarked for New Filmmakers.

Celebrating its fifth year, Focus Features’ Africa First Program will accept entries beginning this Monday, May 14th and continuing through Monday, August 20th. 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 fifth 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. Past short films to come out of the Program have been showcased at the Sundance, Toronto, London, and Berlin Film Festivals; on The Africa Channel; and with the Museum of the Moving Image and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, among other venues worldwide. A compilation of films completed through the Program is available on DVD and across VOD and EST platforms. Complete details on Africa First – including application information – can be accessed year-round through www.focusfeatures.com/africafirst.

Africa First is supervised by Program Director and producer Kisha Cameron Dingle (…Sometimes in April), whose company, Completion Films, has a first-look and consulting deal with Focus, and who coordinates the Program’s submissions and evaluations with Focus director of development & production Christopher Kopp. In addition to on-site work in Africa, the winning filmmakers of Africa First will visit New York City in the fall of 2012 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 Jeb Brody, covering topics like international distribution and the economics of studio financing; and Mrs. Dingle and Mr. Kopp.

Mr. Schamus said, “In celebrating the fifth anniversary of Africa First this year, we are also celebrating the dynamic and talented group of filmmakers we’ve had the privilege of collaborating with during the Program’s tenure. The kudos and acclaim their films have generated around the world is gratifying, and we look forward to working with them again.”

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. The 2010 filmmakers chosen were Ms. Chika Anadu (from Nigeria) for The Marriage Factor; Mr. Lev David (from South Africa) for Down; Ms. Jacqueline Kalimunda (from Rwanda) for Sky Burning Down; Ms. Ebele Okoye (from Nigeria) for The Legacy of Rubies; and Mr. Julius Onah (from Nigeria) for Nepa Don Quench. The filmmakers selected in 2011 were Ms. Oshosheni Hiveluah (from Namibia) for 100 Bucks; Mr. Cedric Ido (from Burkina Faso) for Twaaga [Invincible]; Mr. Mark Middlewick (from South Africa) for Late Night Security; Ms. Akosua Adoma Owusu (from Ghana) for Kwaku Ananse; and Mr. Zelalem Woldemariam (from Ethiopia) for Adamet [Listen].

This year, the submissions period begins on Monday, May 14th, 2012 and runs through Monday, August 20th, 2012. The five filmmakers selected will be notified by October 2012 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. 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; 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.

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