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Focus Features International To Shutter

By | Wednesday November 6, 2013 @ 10:33am PST
Mike Fleming

Word has just gone out internally that Focus Features International is shuttering in December. There were 16 people who worked there, most of them will be out of jobs, and the London office is closing by year’s end. This is hardly a surprise, after Peter Schlessel was named the new head of Focus and supplanted topper James Schamus, and after that Andrew Karpen declined to relocate to the Universal lot and made his own plans to leave.

Related: Is Focus Features International Next Casualty Of Reshuffle?

All the films that were greenlit under the former Focus regime will continue to be serviced and delivered to buyers when they are complete. Beyond that, Focus will use Universal Pictures International to distribute some of its films overseas, and some will be done independently using an outside sales agent. A lot of these Focus Features International staff will be at AFM, and will continue to sell the films already in the pipeline. So give them a pat on the back and buy them a drink, willya?

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Is Focus Features International Next Casualty Of Reshuffle?

EXCLUSIVE: As part of the revamp at Focus Features, I’m hearing that London-based international sales arm Focus Features International is likely next to shutter. The news comes three weeks after Deadline revealed the company is closing its New York office and centralizing operations in LA. The timing of FFI’s closing is unclear, believed to be due to certain UK laws that require a consideration period, but I understand this could be official within a few weeks. It is not known for certain whether some staff would be relocated and international sales of Focus films would continue from the U.S. base. Another scenario would see international sales cease entirely, with movies going through parent company Universal.

Related: Pink Slip Monday At Focus Features

FFI, overseen by co-president Alison Thompson, has been a key fixture on the global scene. At Cannes in May a hot title was the Focus Features pic Black Sea starring Jude Law among its films. Other titles on FFI’s recent slate have included the Woody Allen pic Blue Jasmine, the Amy Winehouse documentary from director Asif Kapadia, and Julian Temple’s Marvin Gaye biopic. In Toronto this fall it handled the Toronto Midnight Madness horror pic Oculus from Relativity and Blumhouse Prods.

Related: TOLDJA! Andrew Karpen Not Staying At Focus Features

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Focus Features Intl Makes Strong Sales On Amy Winehouse Docu And Mike Leigh Pic

Mike Fleming

Alison Thompson, co-president of Focus Features International (FFI), announced multi-territory sales on director Asif Kapadia’s (Senna, The Warrior) untitled documentary on five-time Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse. FFI also saw strong sales on seven-time Academy Award-nominated writer/director Mike Leigh’s (Another Year, Vera Drake, Secrets & Lies) J.M.W. Turner film, which stars Timothy Spall (Harry Potter, Secrets & Lies).

FFI has secured the following territories and respective distributors on behalf of Asif Kapadia’s Amy Winehouse documentary: France – Mars Films; Germany – Prokino; Benelux – Cineart; Greece – Odeon; Iceland – Sena; Israel – Lev Cinema; Middle East – Italia Film; Portugal – Lusomundo Audiovisuals; Turkey – D Productions; Hong Kong – Edko Films; India – PVR Limited; Singapore – Shaw Renters; Thailand – IPA Pacific; Australia/NZ – eOne; and South Africa – Ster-Kinekor. Focus Features International is currently fielding multiple offers for the UK, CIS, and Italy.

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Cannes: Focus Features International Awash In ‘Black Sea’ Deals

In a multi-territory deal, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisition has acquired Germany, Austria, German-speaking Switzerland, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and Latin America on Focus‘ Jude Law-starrer Black Sea. Kevin Macdonald is directing the film about a submarine captain on a risky hunt for sunken treasure. FFI also sealed a deal with BackUp Media which invested against rights in France, Benelux and French-speaking Switzerland. Other territories sold include Australia and New Zealand (eOne), China, CIS, Israel and South Africa.

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Focus Features Intl. Brings Sexual Healing To Cannes: Selling Marvin Gaye Biopic

Mike Fleming

Focus Features International will sell worldwide rights to the untitled biopic that Julien Temple will direct with Rent and Law & Order‘s Jesse L. Martin starring as the iconic soul singer with the sweet voice and troubled personal life. Script is by Matthew Broughton, and In Bruges‘ Brendan Gleeson will play the role of Freddy Cousaert, who met Marvin Gaye in 1981 in the Belgian fishing village of Ostend when the singer was battling everything from drug problems to the IRS. Cousaert helped the singer regain his mojo, leading to a comeback that included hits like Sexual Healing. Vicky Krieps (Hanna) also stars and Dwight Henry (the bakery owner who played Hushpuppy’s father in Beasts Of The Southern Wild) will play Gaye’s father, who silenced his son with a gunshot.

Related: Jesse L. Martin To Play Marvin Gaye, Replaces Lenny Kravitz Read More »

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Cannes: Focus Features To Handle International Sales On Asif Kapadia’s Amy Winehouse Documentary

By | Wednesday April 24, 2013 @ 1:24pm PDT

London (April 24, 2013) – Focus Features International (FFI) will handle worldwide sales on director Asif Kapadia’s (Senna, The Warrior) untitled documentary on five-time Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse. Using unseen archive footage, the film will show through her own words, the genius in Amy’s art and the moving and tragic story of this young woman from London.

James Gay-Rees (Senna, Exit Through the Gift Shop) will produce through Playmaker Films, Gay-Rees and Kapadia’s new production entity, and the film will be co-produced by Universal Music. Gay-Rees and Kapadia collaborated on their acclaimed documentary Senna, which won numerous awards including two BAFTA Awards for Best Documentary and Editing in 2012. Focus Features International will introduce the project to buyers in Cannes.

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Berlin: Focus Features Intl Boards Mike Leigh’s J.M.W Turner Portrait

Timothy Spall is attached to star in the next film from Mike Leigh. Focus Features International will begin worldwide sales in Cannes in May, on the film about British landscape watercolorist J.M.W. Turner. Turner was a pioneering and controversial figure in his day, but is now considered one of the most celebrated artists in British history. FFI, which worked with Leigh on Another Year, will co-finance with BFI and Film4. Leigh said, “Turner as a character is compelling. I want to explore the man, his working life, his relationships and how he lived. But what fascinates me most is the drama that lies in the tension between this driven eccentric and the epic, timeless world he evoked in his masterpieces.” Georgina Lowe is producing through Thin Man Films with Xofa Productions. Gail Egan, Tessa Ross and Norman Merry are exec producing. Co-producers are Michel Saint Jean of Diaphana Films and Malte Grunert of Amusement Park Films.

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Ridley Scott To Exec Produce Slate Of Low-Budget Genre Pics Made In Ireland

October 31, 2012 – Academy-Award nominated director and producer Ridley Scott (Prometheus, Blade Runner) and Scott Free London are partnering with Orchard Media and Focus Features International on a slate of six genre low-budget feature films over a period of three years. Ridley Scott will executive produce and present the slate which will be focused primarily on horror, thriller and science fiction. The films will be in association with Northern Ireland Screen and will shoot primarily in Northern Ireland using resident crew, cast, services and facilities. Focus Features International will handle world-wide sales.

Ridley Scott said: “Our target is to create a structure that enables filmmakers to push boundaries and to excite audiences. Our proposed model of filmmaking allows us to give directors the opportunity to really innovate through narrative, production techniques and distribution strategies.”

Focus Features International’s Alison Thompson commented: “There’s an appetite and market for high-concept low budget films – that combined with Ridley Scott’s pedigree will be very attractive to international buyers.”

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Focus Features International To Handle Sales On Woody Allen’s New Untitled Film

By | Monday August 13, 2012 @ 5:17pm PDT

London (August 13, 2012) – Focus Features International will handle sales on Woody Allen’s next and currently untitled film starring Alec Baldwin, Cate Blanchett, Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Michael Emerson, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard, Max Casella and Alden Ehrenreich. Principal photography on the film will begin in San Francisco and New York City this month.

Focus Features International handled sales on Allen’s last film, To Rome with Love starring Allen, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penélope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page.

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Andrew Adamson Directs Hugh Laurie In ‘Mister Pip’

By | Wednesday April 13, 2011 @ 11:09am PDT
Mike Fleming

Andrew Adamson is attached to direct House star Hugh Laurie in Mister Pip, an adaptation of the Lloyd Jones novel that Adamson has adapted for the screen. Shooting will begin in New Zealand next month, and Focus Features International has acquired international rights.

Laurie will play Mr. Watts, the last white man left on the war-torn island of Bougainville. Asked to open a school there, he reads the kids his favorite novel, Great Expectations. He bonds with the children over the book, which sheds some perspective on their own difficult lives. Adamson will produce with Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech and Robin Scholes. Eyeworks New Zealand and Agio Capital are co-financing with Olympus Pictures, and the New Zealand Film Commission, NZ on Air and TV3 are also investors. UTA Independent Film Group put together the pieces.

Adamson, who co-directed the first two installments of Shrek and directed the first two The Chronicles of Narnia films, is also aligned with James Cameron on a series of 3D Cirque du Soleil features, the first of which has already been shot.

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Focus Features And Tom Hanks Sign On For Wachowski-Directed ‘Cloud Atlas’

By | Tuesday April 12, 2011 @ 1:03pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Tom Hanks has become officially attached to star in Cloud Atlas, an adaptation of the David Mitchell novel that consists of six interconnected stories. The Matrix helmers Andy and Lana Wachowski and Run Lola Run helmer Tom Tykwer have signed on to write and co-direct the film. Warner Bros is set to distribute the film in North America, and Focus Features International has signed on to handle international sales and distribution of the film overseas. They will sell rights at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival.

Shooting on the film will begin in September. The logline: An epic story of humankind in which the actions and consequences of our lives impact one another throughout the past, present and future as one soul is shaped from a murderer into a savior and a single act of kindness ripples out for centuries to inspire a revolution. The film has been rumored for some time, with James McAvoy and Halle Berry among the actors who’ve been rumored to take part.

The film will be produced by Five Drops’ Grant Hill and Stefan Arndt, with Philip Lee exec producing.

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