NBCUniversal is celebrating the Focus Features 20th Anniversary today! Focus has united cinema’s most fearless filmmakers and gifted actors to create unforgettable experiences in theaters around the world.
To kick-off our two decades of powerful storytelling and remarkable filmmaking, the studio is commemorating the incredible milestone with a new reel, looking back at some of their most iconic onscreen moments. You can watch the Focus Features 20th Anniversary reel below.
“Cinema holds great power. That is the simple belief that has guided us since we asked you to join us on a journey of discovery that began twenty years ago,” said Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski.
“It has been a voyage motivated by the boundless joy that comes from experiencing the world anew when seeing it through the eyes of others, and it has been steered by the conviction that sharing that experience in a theater with friends, family, and strangers not only delights us, but brings us closer to our loved ones, our community, and the world at large.”
As part of the studio’s plans to celebrate the occasion, AMC Theatres will highlight Focus Features’ anniversary beginning April 29 with “Focus 20” week at select theatres nationwide. AMC will showcase seven titles from the Focus Features library, each of them receiving an afternoon and primetime screening over the seven-day period.
The titles to be featured are Downton Abbey (directed by Michael Engler; September 20, 2019), Brokeback Mountain (directed by Ang Lee; December 9, 2005), Burn After Reading (directed by Ethan Cohen, Joel Coen; September 12, 2008), and Darkest Hour (directed by Joe Wright; November 22, 2017).
Also included are Atonement (directed by Joe Wright; December 7, 2007), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (directed by Michel Gondry; March 19, 2004), and Harriet (directed by Kasi Lemmons; November 1, 2019). Learn more about “Focus 20” week here.
Additionally, Focus Features is also the first film brand with a dedicated hub on Peacock. The streaming platform will collect the studio’s historically-acquired specialty films in one place to direct specialty film fans. In the coming weeks, Peacock will also be a home for Focus Features’ digital series, including Reel Destination and You Know That Scene.
A highlighted collection of Focus Features films will be available to rent or own on Prime Video, Apple, and other major digital retailers. Films are also available to rent or own at FocusFeatures20.com.
Focus Features will also be partnering with Talenthouse, the ultimate co-creation platform, to engage Creatives in an Art Contest focused on Focus’ legacy through the summer.
FOCUS FEATURES 20TH ANNIVERSARY FUN FACTS
Bill Murray taught Jared Gilman, the young lead who played Sam, how to tie a tie on the set of Moonrise Kingdom after overhearing him tell one of the costumers that he didn’t know how to do it.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was made using few special or artificial techniques, and was filmed in a near-documentary style. Director Michel Gondry decided that there would be “raw effects; low-key, but still spectacular.” The more organic or handmade approach would include in- camera tricks of the eye and on-set sleight-of-hand.
Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, was director Joe Wright’s first feature film.
Promising Young Woman Best Actress nominee Carey Mulligan first film role was in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice as Kitty Bennet. She has been in three Focus movies.
In Promising Young Woman, Carey Mulligan’s character Cassie is reading a book titled Careful How You Go, which is an ode to the title of writer/director Emerald Fennell’s 2018 Sundance short of the same name.
Pariah writer/director Dee Rees studied under director Spike Lee during her time as a graduate student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Spike Lee went on to be one of the executive producers on the feature film.
In addition to her iconic role as Lady Mary on Downton Abbey, Michelle Dockery also appeared in the Focus films Self/Less, Hanna, and Anna Karenina, the last of which also had Promising Young Woman writer/director Emerald Fennell as her co-star.
In The Place Beyond the Pines‘ titular single-take motorcycle bank robbery/chase scene, Ryan Gosling’s character Luke slips off his bike and hits his head on a center divider in the cemetery before taking off again. That heart-stopping moment was actually an accident that they caught on camera. They didn’t have enough time to call “cut!” before stuntman Rick Miller picked up his bike and took off again to continue the scene.
Actress Emily Blunt made her feature film debut as Tasmin in the Focus film My Summer of Love, directed by Pawel Pawlikowski.
It took seven years for Ang Lee’s iconic Brokeback Mountain to finally get the greenlight to be made. The film went on to earn eight Academy Award nominations, including three wins.
The elephant parade scene in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a real parade that was not part of the script. One afternoon on the set in Manhattan, someone noticed that the famed Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus was in town and was going to have its annual midnight Elephant Walk parade across 34th Street that very night. A few hours later, cast and crew were on the scene and Joel and Clementine were at the parade.
Promising Young Woman‘s Emerald Fennell made the entire playlist for the film before even writing it.
Both Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain and Robin Wright’s Land were shot on the same mountain in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
While filming BlacKkKlansman, director Spike Lee asked the entire crew to come dressed in suit and tie the day that Harry Belafonte came in for his scene as a way of showing their great respect for his work.
Promising Young Woman‘s Carey Mulligan and Belfast‘s Jamie Dornan friendship began on the set of Pride & Prejudice when he was visiting – a true Focus friendship.
On the set of Belfast, the cast played games of rounders to bond with each other when they had breaks between filming.
The fortune teller in Eddie Huang’s 2021 film Boogie is played by the restaurateur’s mother Jessica Huang.
Before filming Sin Nombre, Cary Fukunaga traveled through Central America on the same route as the real immigrants, riding on top of a train with 700 immigrants.
Consulting with doctors all the way, Matthew McConaughey ultimately shed nearly 50 pounds to play Ron Woodroof at around 140 pounds for the majority of shoot days on Dallas Buyers Club, playing one pivotal hospital scene at 135 pounds. The transformative performance earned McConaughey an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Atonement was filmed using Christian Dior stockings as a filter over the back of the camera lens for the 1935 portion of the story in order to create a beautiful glow effect.
The snowy New York street sequence in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals was actually shot right in Los Angeles on Wilshire Street.
Want to live in the Winchester Tavern pub from Shaun of the Dead? The building was renovated into living flats in recent years.
During break time on the set of Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson and Bruce Willis would skip rocks with the kids playing khaki scouts.
Bill Murray’s son played one of the khaki scouts in Moonrise Kingdom.
Moonrise Kingdom director Wes Anderson hired six world-class artists and illustrators to create Suzy’s fictional book covers. One of the artists included David Hyde Costello, the writer/illustrator of the Little Pig children’s book series.
Moonrise Kingdom director Wes Anderson asked stars Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward to send each other hand-written letters to build an authentic connection before filming.
Rian Johnson wanted his first feature film Brick to replicate classic detective movies, but forbade Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the rest of the cast from watching Humphrey Bogart films to avoid going down the wrong path of “kids doing impressions of old movies.”
Paul Thomas Anderson was inspired by Cristóbal Balenciaga in creating the character of Reynolds Woodcock for Phantom Thread. The character is played by Daniel Day-Lewis, who is also a trained shoemaker.
Kajillionaire director Miranda July and Gina Rodriguez met at a Culver City smoothie shop where they fleshed out the character of Melanie together.
Gina Rodriguez helped assemble much of her character’s wardrobe in Kajillionaire. She instant messaged several brands for fittings. The mini-backpack she used in the film is actually her own.
In Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution, the main character’s job involved torturing suspects, so DP Rodrigo Prieto rigged some Christmas bulbs to reflect on the actors’ faces in order to create the effect of insanity to the character’s gaze.
Lust, Caution was filmed on location across Asia. Location filming in Shanghai necessitated the temporary removal of over 3,000 residents’ air conditioners.
Ruth Negga spent three days straight in her LA hotel after receiving the script for Loving preparing and trying to channel Mildred as best as she could. The jail and courthouse scenes in Loving were filmed in the actual courthouse and jail where the real Richard and Mildred Loving were locked up.