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Joel & Ethan Coen in Two-Picture Deal With Focus Features and Working Title Films


NEW YORK, April 24, 2007 – Academy Award-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen will write, produce, and direct their next two films for Focus Features and Working Title Films. The two projects are A Serious Man and the dark spy comedy Burn After Reading. The latter feature will star Academy Award winners George Clooney and Frances McDormand; Brad Pitt has newly joined the cast, and production is set to begin in late summer. Focus CEO James Schamus and Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner made the announcement today.

The Coens are currently completing post-production on the feature No Country for Old Men, which world-premieres at next month’s Cannes International Film Festival. Mr. Clooney is currently in production on Leatherheads, which he is directing and starring in. As star and executive producer, Ms. McDormand has just begun filming in the U.K. for Focus on Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, which also stars Amy Adams for director Bharat Nalluri. Mr. Pitt will soon be seen with Mr. Clooney in Ocean’s Thirteen, as well as in The Assassination of Jesse James, and is currently filming The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Messrs. Bevan and Fellner, who will executive-produce the two films, have had a long association with the Coens; Fargo (which won Oscars for Ms. McDormand as Best Actress and for the Coens in the Original Screenplay category), The Hudsucker Proxy, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou? (for which Mr. Clooney won a Golden Globe Award), and The Man Who Wasn’t There were all made by the Coens with Working Title.

Focus president of production John Lyons has also previously collaborated with the Coen brothers extensively, as casting director on their features Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo and The Big Lebowski.

Mr. Schamus said, “Joel and Ethan are the gold standard in American filmmaking. To have the chance to make not one but two films with them – along with our friends at Working Title – makes all of us at Focus proud.”

Messrs. Bevan and Fellner commented, “We’re delighted to be collaborating with the Coen Brothers anew, and to be partnered again with James and his team at Focus, on two such especially exciting new projects.”

Working Title Films is Europe’s leading film production company, making movies that defy boundaries as well as demographics. In addition to Edgar Wright‘s Hot Fuzz (the U.K. boxoffice smash which Focus’ sibling company Rogue Pictures released across the U.S. this past weekend) and Steve Bendelack’s blockbuster Mr. Bean’s Holiday (opening nationwide in the U.S. on August 31st), Working Title’s 2007 slate also includes Shekhar Kapur’s The Golden Age, the long-awaited follow-up to the celebrated Elizabeth, starring Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush, and Samantha Morton (due out in the fall); and Adam Brooks’ Definitely, Maybe, starring Ryan Reynolds, Isla Fisher, Derek Luke, Abigail Breslin, Elizabeth Banks, and Rachel Weisz.

Working Title’s hit Pride & Prejudice, directed by Joe Wright, was handled by Focus Features domestically, earning 4 Academy Award nominations last year. Focus is also the domestic distributor of Working Title’s Atonement, reteaming Mr. Wright with leading lady Keira Knightley and also starring James McAvoy and Romola Garai, which will be released in the U.S. in December.

Focus Features ( is a motion picture production, financing, and worldwide distribution company committed to bringing moviegoers the most original stories from the world’s most innovative filmmakers.

In addition to Atonement, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Burn After Reading, and A Serious Man, upcoming Focus Features releases include Lajos Koltai’s Evening, starring Claire Danes, Toni Collette, Vanessa Redgrave, Patrick Wilson, Hugh Dancy, Natasha Richardson, Mamie Gummer, Eileen Atkins, Meryl Streep, and Glenn Close; Kasi LemmonsTalk to Me, starring Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor; Shane Acker’s animated fantasy epic 9, starring Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly; Henry Selick‘s stop-motion animated feature Coraline, starring Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher; David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, starring Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts; Terry George’s Reservation Road, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly, and Mira Sorvino; Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges, starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes; and Lust, Caution, the new film from Ang Lee, the Academy Award-winning director of Focus’ worldwide success Brokeback Mountain.

Focus Features, Rogue Pictures, and Working Title Films are part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric and 20% owned by Vivendi.