“We have our own superheroes here at Focus Feature and they are going to bring older filmgoers back to your movie theaters,” Lisa Bunnell, Focus Features distribution chief, promised thousands of cinema execs at Universal’s CinemaCon presentation Wednesday.
“They want to see something new. They come,” she said, welcoming the cast of Downton Abbey: A New Era via video offering brief, happy remarks and thanks to the CinemaCon crowd that fans in North America would soon be experiencing the film.
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The anticipated sequel based on the wildly popular series is set to open in North America on May 20. It’s out in the UK this week. (Read Deadline’s review here.)
Focus presented some footage from the film — there’s been a trailer out for some time. A movie is going to be shot at the historic family estate; Tom is getting married; and some of the family journey to the South of France after Maggie Smith’s Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, inherits a stunning villa under mysterious circumstances.
Written and co-produced by creator Julian Fellowes and directed by Simon Curtis, the sequel opens in 1928, with the wedding of Tom Branson (Allen Leech) and Lucy Smith (Tuppence Middleton).
Older demos have remained elusive even as the pandemic wanes, and a lot is hanging on the success of Downton in bringing them back.
Bunnell also showcased James Gray’s Armageddon Time, set to world premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. The star-studded, personal coming-of-age story about the strength of family and the generational pursuit of the American Dream is led by Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins and Jeremy Strong, with Repeta Banks, Jaylin Webb and Ryan Sell.
Gray also wrote the period drama that’s based on his childhood experiences set in a pre-Reagan era America.
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, in partnership with the House of Dior, is the story of a widowed cleaning lady in 1950s London who falls madly in love with a couture Dior dress, and decides that she must have one of her own. She works, starves and gambles to raise the funds to pursue her dream, then embarks on an adventure to Paris that will change not only her own outlook, but the very future of the House of Dior.
Written, directed and produced by Anthony Fabian, it stars Lesley Manville, Isabelle Huppert, Jason Isaacs and Lucas Bravo. It is based on the novel Mrs. ‘Aris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico. It opens July 15.
Here’s the trailer:
Focus also showed off Tar, written and directed by Tod Field, which opens October 7.
Field’s first film in 16 years is set in the international world of classical music and stars Cate Blanchett as Lydia Tár, widely considered one of the greatest living composer/conductors and first-ever female chief conductor of a major German orchestra. Mark Strong and Julian Glover also star.
The score is by Oscar-winning Joker composer Hildur Guðnadóttir, the first female composer to win an Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA for Original Score.