LONDON, October 3rd, 2011 – Working Title Films has commenced production on Joe Wright’s epic love story Anna Karenina, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel by Academy Award winner Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love). The film will shoot in the U.K. and Russia. Focus Features will distribute the movie domestically, and Universal Pictures International (UPI) will distribute the movie internationally.
Anna Karenina marks Mr. Wright’s fourth film with Working Title, following the award-winning box office successes Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, and The Soloist. The film is produced by Working Title co-chairs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner and reunites them with Paul Webster, all three of whom produced Mr. Wright’s first two films Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, released domestically by Focus and internationally by UPI. Also for Focus, Mr. Wright recently directed the hit adventure thriller Hanna.
Keira Knightley, Academy Award-nominated for Pride & Prejudice, will star as Anna Karenina in her third collaboration with Mr. Wright. Ms. Knightley stars opposite two-time Academy Award nominee Jude Law, as Anna’s husband Aleksei Karenin; and Aaron Johnson (Nowhere Boy), as Count Vronsky. Rounding out the cast are Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire), Matthew Macfadyen (Pride & Prejudice), Domhnall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), Alicia Vikander (The Seventh Son), two-time Academy Award nominee Emily Watson, Olivia Williams (Hanna), and Ruth Wilson (Luther).
Also reteaming with Mr. Wright on Anna Karenina are Academy Award-winning composer Dario Marianelli, twice-Academy Award-nominated costume designer Jacqueline Durran, three-time Academy Award-nominated production designer Sarah Greenwood, and Academy Award-nominated director of photography Seamus McGarvey. Melanie Ann Oliver (Focus’ Jane Eyre) is the editor. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is the choreographer on the movie.
The story unfolds in its original late-19th-century Russia high-society setting and powerfully explores the capacity for love that surges through the human heart, from the passion between adulterers to the bond between a mother and her children. As Anna (Ms. Knightley) questions her happiness, change comes to her family, friends, and community.
Working Title Films, co-chaired by Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner since 1992, is one of the world’s leading film production companies. Founded in 1983, Working Title has made nearly 100 films that have grossed over $4.5 billion worldwide. Its films have won 6 Academy Awards, 26 BAFTA Awards, and prestigious prizes at the Cannes and Berlin International Film Festivals. In addition to Anna Karenina, the current release slat includes Tomas Alfredson’s thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and Tom Hardy; Baltasar Kormákur’s Contraband, starring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale; Rowan Atkinson in Johnny English Reborn, directed by Oliver Parker; and Ken Kwapis’ Big Miracle, starring Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski.
Universal Pictures markets and distributes films internationally through Universal Pictures International (UPI), which officially began doing business on January 1, 2007. In the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, German-speaking Switzerland, Benelux, Russia, Australia, Mexico and France, UPI directly markets and distributes movies through our local offices, creating campaigns and release strategies that respond to the culture and market behavior of those territories. In other parts of the world, Universal distributes through Paramount’s local offices as it transitions out of the formerly shared UIP model. In some smaller territories we continue to work through UIP on theatrical distribution.
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.
In addition to Anna Karenina, and Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy, current and upcoming Focus releases include John Madden’s hit espionage thriller The Debt, starring Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, and Jessica Chastain; writer/director Dee Rees’ contemporary drama Pariah, which world-premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival; Being Flynn, written and directed by Paul Weitz and starring two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro and Paul Dano; Lorene Scafaria’s pre-apocalyptic comedic romance Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley; Moonrise Kingdom, the new feature from Wes Anderson, starring Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman; Sam Fell and Chris Butler’s ParaNorman, the new 3D stop-motion comedy thriller from animation company LAIKA; and the historical tale Hyde Park on Hudson, directed by Roger Michell and starring Academy Award nominees Bill Murray and Laura Linney.
Focus Features and Universal Pictures International are part of NBCUniversal, 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. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. Comcast Corporation owns a controlling 51% interest in NBCUniversal, with GE holding a 49% stake.