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Berlin: Focus Features Reteams with Laika for 'Boxtrolls,' Snaps Up Rights for Upstairs-Downstairs Jane Austen Spin 'Longbourn'

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood February 7, 2013 at 1:51PM

Focus acquisitions from Berlin include LAIKA's "The Boxtrolls" and Jane Austen-inspired "Longbourn"...
Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in front of the 1995 "Pride and Prejudice"'s Longbourn
Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in front of the 1995 "Pride and Prejudice"'s Longbourn

- Focus Features and LAIKA ("ParaNorman," "Coraline") are teaming for their third project together, "The Boxtrolls." The film is a 3-D stop-motion and CG hybrid animated feature based on Alan Snow's bestseller "Here Be Monsters." The voice cast includes Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, Jared Harris, Tracy Morgan, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Anthony Stacci ("Open Season") and Graham Annable (story artist on "Coraline" and "ParaNorman") will direct. The film is set for an October 2014 release.

- Focus and Random House have snapped up film rights to Jo Baker's yet to be published novel "Longbourn," which is based on Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," but centers on the servants in the Bennet estate. The novel is set for release this fall. Per Focus' description of the project:

LONGBOURN will reveal what Jane Austen did not: the constant chaos swirling downstairs, the preparation for lavish balls, the housekeeper’s real thoughts about the family patriarch. But it will also reveal the tragic consequences of the Napoleonic Wars and focus on a romance between a newly arrived footman and a housemaid, the novel's main characters.

Sounds like "Downton Abbey" meets "Pride and Prejudice" -- a hot ticket.

This article is related to: News, Festivals, Berlin International Film Festival, Focus Features, News

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.