On E L James’ last trip to LA one day she Tweeted she was going to “Focus,” I’m assuming she meant she was spending the morning with her film company, Focus Features. This prompted a conversation in the office about what type of films Focus Features makes. I had heard they made “edgier” films.
I’ll start with Focus Features is a NBCUniversal, and here is their own description:
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.
So what films have they made to “challenge the mainstream?”
Brokeback Mountain (gay cowboys), Atonement (accusing your sisters boyfriend of committing a crime he didn’t commit), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (couple has minds erased after their marriage goes bad), Milk (first gay elected official), Hanna (16 year old raised to be an assassin), and here’s a more complete list with how much money they made.
Yes, there are plenty of “regular” mainstream movies on the list. BUT, many of them really do go against the grain, or explore some “off the beaten track” topics. What is of note is that there isn’t much in the standard romantic comedy genre, which is good. Fifty Shades of Grey might be a standard love story, but the BDSM makes this a tough movie to take the the screen. I think a company like Focus Features has the experience and guts to do that without watering it down too much.
Despite being a smaller entity of Universal, Focus Features has brought in some big actors: Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Kiera Knightly, Jude Law, Anne Hathaway, Heath Ledger, Sean Penn, Kate Winslet, among others.
Focus Features has also brought in some big name directors who have done some interesting work:
Ang Lee – Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi, Hulk
Gus Van Sant (whose name has been tied to Fifty Shades of Grey) – Milk, Good Will Hunting, Finding Forester, Psycho
David Cronenberg – Cosmopolis, The Dead Zone, The Fly, Crash
Roman Polanski – The Pianist, Rosemary’s Baby, Tess
So yes, Focus Features has been able to bring in the big talent, actors, directors, producers to support their original and daring films that challenge the mainstream.
Do you have any thoughts on Focus Features or even just a favorite film?