Indie Companies: Focus Features Worst Acquisition?

January 22, 2008–Focus Features has acquired worldwide rights to Andrew Flemings comedy Hamlet 2, a world premiere at this years Sundance Film Festival. Focus Features CEO James Schamus and president Andrew Karpen made the announcement today.

Directed by Andrew Fleming (Dick, Threesome) from an original screenplay he wrote with Pam Brady (South Park, Team America: World Police), Hamlet 2 is produced by L+E Pictures Eric Eisner & Leonid Rozhetskin and Aaron Ryder (Memento, The Prestige). The movie was executive-produced by Bona Fide partners Albert Berger & Ron Yerxa (Election).

In the irreverent comedy, a failed actor-turned-worse-high-school-drama teacher (Steve Coogan of Night at the Museum) rallies his Tucson, AZ students as he conceives and stages a politically incorrect musical sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

The film also stars David Arquette (the Scream movies), Melonie Diaz (soon to be seen in Be Kind Rewind), two-time Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener, Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live), and Elisabeth Shue as herself.

Schamus and Karpen commented, Andrew Fleming and an extraordinary filmmaking team have brought everyone at Focus an amazing New Years present. We cant wait to share this riotously inventive movie with the whole world.

Eisner said, Were extremely excited to work with the talented Focus group on Hamlet 2, and we look forward to a bright future for the movie after what was an exceptional response at Sundance.

Rozhetskin added, Hamlet 2 is the most auspicious imaginable launch for L+E Pictures.

L+E Pictures was formed in 2007 by Eisner and Rozhetskin with a mission to finance and develop feature-length films. L+E Pictures provides equity financing for films with budgets in the range of $5 to $30 million dollars.

A late addition to the Sundance roster, Hamlet 2 world-premiered last night at the Festival. Focus In Bruges, from writer/director Martin McDonagh and starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes, world-premiered to a sold-out audience last week as the Festivals Opening-Night film.

In addition to Hamlet 2 and In Bruges, current and upcoming Focus Features releases include Joe Wrights Atonement, which earlier today was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture; Bharat Nalluris Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, starring Frances McDormand and Amy Adams; Shane Ackers animated fantasy epic 9, starring Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly; Henry Selicks stop-motion animated feature Coraline, starring Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher; Cary Fukunagas immigrant thriller Sin Nombre; Joel and Ethan Coens Burn After Reading, starring George Clooney, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, and Brad Pitt; writer/director Jim Jarmuschs new film, tentatively titled The Limits of Control, starring Isaach De Bankol; Gus Van Sants Milk, starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk; and Ang Lees Lust, Caution, winner of the Best Picture [Golden Lion] Award at the 2007 Venice International Film Festival.