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Focus Features sets six for 2010

Dates set for 'Greenberg,' 'Babies,' 'American'

Insisting it will survive the tremendous upheaval in the studio specialty biz, Focus Features has already dated six movies for release in 2010, including new pics directed by Noah Baumbach and Sofia Coppola and starring George Clooney.

Focus CEO James Schamus, in making the announcement, said the slate “is as audacious as any in our history” and comes just as the company celebrates jumping the $1 billion mark in domestic ticket sales over the course of its lifetime (Focus launched in 2002).

Focus, Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures Classics are the three surviving studio specialty units, although SPC releases mostly arthouse fare. Warner Independent Pictures, Paramount Vantage and, now, Miramax have all been shuttered as standalone divisions.

Indie companies and studio specialty arms usually date movies later in the process than big studios, since they produce fewer of their own movies and rely more on acquisitions. For the coming year, Focus was able to date many of its 2010 pics earlier than usual.

On March 12, Focus launches Baumbach’s Ben Stiller starring comedy-drama “Greenberg” in a limited run. Baumbach penned the script from a story he conceived with his wife Jennifer Jason Leigh. Scott Rudin is producing.

Thomas Balmes’ docu “Babies” launches in a limited run on April 16. From an original idea by Alain Chabat, film follows four babies from around the world from birth to first steps. Chabat produced with Amandine Billot and Christine Rouxel via his Chez Wam production company.

Anton Corbijn’s suspense-thriller “The American,” starring George Clooney, unspools nationwide Sept. 1. Focus owns worldwide rights to the film, which is currently lensing in Italy. Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse shingle and This is That are producing.

Focus hasn’t yet determined in which quarter of 2010 it will open Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere.” Projects reunites Coppola with Focus, which released “Lost in Translation.” Focus also owns international rights to the pic, which is being produced by Coppola, Roman Coppola and G. Mac Brown via American Zoetrope.

Kevin Macdonald’s Roman epic adventure “The Eagle of the Ninth” will open in the third quarter. Focus is producing with the UK’s Film4. Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland star. Shooting wraps next week in London.

Set for release sometime in November 2010 is “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the directing/writing team behind “Half Nelson.” Fleck and Boden adapted from Ned Vizzini’s 2006 book of the same name. Focus is co-financing with Wayfare Entertainment.

Focus Features Intl. repped international rights to several of the films at the American Film Market.

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