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Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Focus Features Movies

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Bill Murray’s son played one of the khaki scouts in Moonrise Kingdom. 🥺

If you’re a bit of a cinephile (or, heck, a major one), then you’re probably familiar with the films of Focus Features. From classic titles like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to more recent releases like the Oscar-nominated film Belfast, let’s just say Focus has good taste in movies.

So, in honor of their 20th anniversary (!!!), here are some interesting behind-the-scenes facts about some of Focus Features’ most amazing movies:

1.

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)


Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

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. 🥺 Also, Bill Murray’s son played one of the khaki scouts in Moonrise Kingdom. 🥺 🥺


Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

2.

Lost in Translation (2003)


Focus Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

Writer/Director Sofia Coppola fell in love with the Park Hyatt Tokyo (where the film is shot) after staying there during her promotional tour for The Virgin Suicides.


Focus Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

3.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)


Focus Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

The elephant parade scene was a real parade that was not part of the script. One afternoon on the set in Manhattan, someone noticed that the 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.


Focus Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

4.

Pride & Prejudice (2005)


Focus Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

This was director Joe Wright’s first feature film, and it actually has different endings depending on where you saw the film! In the original ending (UK version), Elizabeth Bennet’s (Keira Knightley) father finally consents to Mr. Darcy’s (Matthew Macfadyen) marriage proposal, and Elizabeth runs out of his office. In the alternate ending (US version), the film continues after the scene in the office, and Elizabeth and Darcy sit by a lake at night, have a sweet little conversation, and then kiss. He calls her “Mrs. Darcy” repeatedly as he continues to kiss her.


Focus Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

5.

Promising Young Woman (2020)


Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

At one point in the film, Carey Mulligan’s character Cassie reads 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.


Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

6.

Anna Karenina (2012)


Laurie Sparham / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

The stunning diamond necklace that Keira Knightley wears during the ball scene is actually an exclusive high jewelry piece from Chanel.


Laurie Sparham / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

7.

Pariah (2011)


Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

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. In a wonderful twist of fate, Spike Lee went on to become one of the executive producers on Pariah.


Jenny Baptiste / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

8.

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)


Atsushi Nishijima/ Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

In the 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.


Atsushi Nishijima/ Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

9.

Brokeback Mountain (2012)


Focus Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

Although Ang Lee’s iconic film earned eight Academy Award nominations, including three wins, it actually took seven years for Brokeback Mountain to finally get the green light to be made.


Focus Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

10.

BlacKkKlansman (2018)


David Lee / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


David Lee / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

11.

Belfast (2021)


Rob Youngson / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

On the set of Belfast, the cast played games of rounders (an English game that’s very similar to baseball) to bond with each other when they had breaks between filming.


Rob Youngson / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

12.

Boogie (2021)


Nicole Rivelli / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

The fortune teller in Eddie Huang’s film is played by the restaurateur’s mother, Jessica Huang.

13.

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)


Anne Marie Fox / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

Consulting with doctors all the way, Matthew McConaughey ultimately shed roughly 50 pounds to play Ron Woodroof for the majority of shoot days, playing one pivotal hospital scene at 135 pounds. The transformative performance earned McConaughey an Academy Award for Best Actor.


Anne Marie Fox / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

14.

Atonement (2007)


Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

15.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)


Rogue Pictures / Everett Collection

The famous pub in the film, The Winchester, was based on a real pub that star Simon Pegg used to go to. Sadly, you can’t visit the location today (unless you want to live there) because the building was renovated into living flats in recent years. 🤷🏻‍♀️


Rogue Pictures / Everett Collection

16.

Brick (2005)


Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

Rian Johnson wanted his first feature film 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 path of “kids doing impressions of old movies.”


Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

17.

Nocturnal Animals (2016)


Merrick Morton / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

The snowy New York street sequence in Tom Ford’s gorgeous film was actually shot right in Los Angeles on Wilshire Blvd.

18.

Kajillionaire (2020)


Matt Kennedy / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

Director Miranda July and Gina Rodriguez met at a Culver City smoothie shop, where they fleshed out the character of Melanie together.


Matt Kennedy / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

19.

Lust, Caution (2007)


Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

20.

Loving (2016)


Ben Rothstein / Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

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.


Focus Features / Courtesy Everett Collection

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