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Anne Hathaway, Channing Tatum lead Focus Features’ 2011 slate


Hollywoodnews.com: We’re barely at the halfway point of 2010, and already some major Hollywood studios are looking ahead to next year.

Perhaps its wise to jump the gun and get the publicity machines revved up for 2011, as this season — so far — has lacked headline-grabbing titles and buzzworthy projects. So, what’s on the horizon?

If you are Focus Features, you have four big films you’re eager to promote, and as of today, those films have (tentative) release dates.

“The Eagle of the Ninth” will open Feb. 25. A Roman epic adventure, “Ninth” is set in 140 AD, 20 years after the unexplained disappearance of the entire Ninth Legion in the mountains of Scotland. Young centurion Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) arrives from Rome to solve the mystery and restore the reputation of his father, the commander of the Ninth. Accompanied only by his British slave, Esca (Jamie Bell), Marcus sets out across Hadrian’s Wall into the uncharted highlands of Caledonia – to confront its savage tribes, make peace with his father’s memory, and retrieve the lost legion’s golden emblem, the Eagle of the Ninth. The movie also stars Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong, and Tahar Rahim.

Literary adaptations continue with “Jane Eyre,” based on Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel. Directed by Cary Fukunaga (“Sin Nombre”), it opens on March 11, and stars Mia Wasikowska of Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” and Michael Fassbender of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”

Heading into the spring, Focus will prep “Hanna,” the latest from Oscar-nominated “Atonement” director Joe Wright. In the film, Saoirse Ronan (“The Lovely Bones”) plays a teenage girl who learns she has the strength, the stamina, and the smarts of a solider. These come from being raised by her father (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA man, in the wilds of Finland. Living a life unlike any other teenager, her upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one; sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe while eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own (Cate Blanchett).

And then there’s one “awards bait” film on the docket, an that would be “One Day,” which will open in the third quarter of 2011. It stars Academy Award nominee Anne Hathaway in a film directed by “An Education” helmer Lone Scherfig. David Nicholls has completed adapting the screenplay, based on his acclaimed novel of the same name. Emma (Ms. Hathaway) and Dexter meet on the night of their graduation – July 15th, 1988. She is a working-class girl of principle and ambition who dreams of making the world a better place. He is a wealthy charmer who dreams that the world will be his playground. But where will they be on this day next year, and the year after that? Over 20 years, we check in on Emma and Dexter every July 15th, and watch as their friendship ebbs and flows with the passing of the years.

For more information, visit www.focusfeatures.com.

About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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