Focus Features

by John Pflieger
[21] Focus Features Logo

[21] Focus Features Logo

Focus Features is a film production and distribution company that serves at the art house film department of the NBCUniversal brand.  Started in 2002, Focus Features is currently run by CEO Peter Schlessel, who took the helm in late 2013 after Focus and the FilmDistrict merged in 2013 [1].  Focus Features has had great success over the last 12 years with critically acclaimed releases like Brokeback Mountain, Dallas Buyers Club, and Lost in Translation just to name a few.  The former being the most successful Focus Feature production to date, grossing $83 million and receiving 3 Academy Awards and receive nominations for 5 more along with a slue of other awards [2][3].

Financials

Catering usually to more specific audiences then some of the major production house, Focus Features is currently ranked 12th for top grossing production companies in the 2014 year, with a total gross of $104 million, which puts them in control of 1.1% of the current market share [4].  Though falling short to its 5th ranked older brother Universal Pictures, the smaller production company has managed to sustain an average gross of $8.7 million per release over the course of its 11 releases in 2014 [4][5].  With award season approaching, Focus has the potential to see continued growth in revenue through the beginning of 2015.  With Oscar buzz surrounding actor Eddie Redmayne of Focus Features most recent release The Theory of Everything, a nomination for best actor has the potential to increase revenue by about $600,000, where a win in the category could yield nearly $6 million in increased revenue[6][7].  Though Focus is only responsible for a small portion of NBCUniversal’s $1.4 billion filmed entertainment revenue, the small production house continues to boast impressive figures[8].

Recent Releases 

“The Theory of Everything “

[22] The Theory of Everything Poster

[22] The Theory of Everything Poster

The biographical film chronicles the life of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking as he fell in love with his wife Jane, explored the science of universal time, and struggled with the debilitating neurological disease of ALS[9].  Eddie Redmayne, who plays Steven Hawking, has already been labeled by Variety as one of the main contenders for the Best Actor Academy Award[6].  The film, which opened November 7th in a limited release to 5 theaters grossed $208,763 and continued to succeed as it hit a wide release November 26th in 802 theaters and grossed slightly over $5 million in its wide release opening[10].  As of December 1st the film has grossed $9.6 million and has the potential to see continued success as the holidays and award season approaches[10].

“Kill The Messenger”

[23] Kill The Messenger Poster

[23] Kill The Messenger Poster

A political thriller starring Academy Award nominated actor Jeremy Renner, tells the story of journalist Gary Webb, who stumbles across a dark story that involves drugs and government cover-ups[11].  The film opened October 10th in 374 theaters and grossed $941,809 in its opening weekend.  At its widest relapse the film was only in 427 theaters and to date has only grossed $2.4 million, having been stifled by the Buena Vista release of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” which was release the same day and saw far greater success[12][13].

“The Boxtrolls”

[24] The Boxtrolls Poster

[24] The Boxtrolls Poster

This family film tells the tail of an adventure of a group of unique creatures as they raise an orphan and fight for their lives in an effort to thwart their local town villain[14].  This film has been the most successful release for Focus Features this year having grossed nearly $50 million.  The feature opened September 26th 3,464 theaters and gross $17.2 million, which accounted for 34.9% of the films total gross domestically[15].  The film went on to gross $56.2 million worldwide, making a total of $105.7 million, which is a huge success not only for Focus Films, but also for the small Oregon based stop-motion animation house Laika Studios, which carried out the animation for “The Boxtrolls.”[15][16]  The small animation studio also produced “ParaNorman” and “Coraline” for Focus Features, which are both in Focus Feature’s top 5 for most successful domestic grossing films[5].  Only days after the opening of “The Boxtrolls”, Focus Features signed an agreement with Laika to work with them on 3 more feature length films[17].  This agreement proves to be especially wise when looking at the fact that all three of the films that Laika and Focus have teamed up on have grossed over $100 million world wide, making them highly profitable[17].  There is still room for more success in the coming months, seeing that “The Boxtrolls” received 13 nominations in this years Annie Awards, and is only expected to receive more nods as award season get underway[18].

Upcoming

Focus Features consistently releases 10-12 films a year, making them a highly productive production house for the scale of their operation[5].  As of now, Focus has announced a few new projects that will be coming up in 2015 which will have the potential to make quite a splash in the market place in the upcoming year.

[25] 50 Shades of Grey Poster

[25] 50 Shades of Grey Poster

One of the more anticipated Focus Features releases of 2015 is the adaptation of the novel 50 Shades of Grey.  The popular 3 part book series will be treated as a trilogy by focus and will follow the saga of the novels quite closely.  The film is scheduled to be released on Valentines Day, offering an interesting option for holiday viewing[19].

[26] Black Sea Poster

[26] Black Sea Poster

Another highly anticipated 2015 Focus release is the upcoming release starring Jude Law, “Black Sea”.  The apparent action movie casts Law as a submarine captain who is working with a team of Russian and English crew members to salvage Nazi gold in a sunken U-boat.  The film is scheduled to be released January 23 of 2015[20].

Future of Focus Features

The future for Focus Features appears to be very bright.  With a recent 3 film deal with Laika Studios, this is a air of optimism, because with the success of the studio’s earlier films, we can only assume that with the proper marketing and distribution the next 3 should be just as successful.  Also with the “50 Shades of Grey” series on the horizon, there are multiple prospects for continued growth.  As we see the success of Comcast and NBCUniversal and their continued growth, the potential for the expansion of Focus Features is exponentially increased.

Citations:

1.     Focus Features Announces More Key Senior Hires, hollywoodreporter.com, RT; 12/01/14

2.    Brokeback Mountain, Boxofficemojo.com, RT: 12/01/14

3.   Brokeback Mountain Awards, imdb.com, RT: 12/01/14

4.   Studio Market Share, Boxofficemojo.com, RT: 12/01/14

5.   Focus Features, Boxofficemojo.com, RT: 12/01/14

6.   Contender: Lead Actor Preview, Variety.com, RT: 12/01/14

7.   How Oscar Nominations Affect the Box Office, Businessinsider.com, RT: 12/01/14

8.   Comcast Earnings Release, cmcsk.com, RT: 12/01/14

9.   The Theory of Everything, Rottentomatos.com, RT: 12/01/14

10. The Theory of Everything, Boxofficemojo.com, RT: 12/01/14

11. Kill the Messenger, Rottentomatos.com, RT: 12/01/14

12.  Kill the Messenger, Boxofficemojo.com, RT: 12/01/14

13.  Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Boxofficemojo.com, RT: 12/01/14

14.  The Boxtrolls, Rottentomatos.com, RT: 12/01/14

15. The Boxtrolls, Boxofficemojo.com, RT: 12/01/14

16.  Laika Studios, Laikastudios.com, RT: 12/01/14

17. Focus Features, Laika Ink Three-Film Pact, hollywoodreporter.com, RT; 12/01/14

18.  Boxtrolls leads Annie Award nominations, bbc.com, RT; 12/01/14

19. 50 Shades of Grey, fiftyshadesmovie.com, RT; 12/01/14

20. Black Sea, focusfeatures.com, RT; 12/01/14

21. Focus Features Logo, thewrap.com, RT; 12/01/14

22. The Theory of Everything Poster, imdb.com, RT; 12/01/14

23. Kill the Messenger Poster, imdb.com, RT; 12/01/14

24. The Boxtrolls Poster, imdb.com, RT; 12/01/14

25. 50 Shades of Grey Poster, imdb.com, RT; 12/01/14

26. Black Sea Poster, imdb.com, RT; 12/01/14

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