Focus Features’ president of production Josh McLaughlin has exited his post to become a producer, Collider has exclusively learned, and sources say he’s getting a first-look production deal with the studio.
I’m told that there are no immediate plans to replace McLaughlin, and that Focus president Robert Walak will continue to oversee both production and acquisitions for the studio. McLaughlin was named president of production in May 2017, when he replaced Jim Burke, who also yearned to return to his previous role as producer and received a first-look deal at Focus.
McLaughlin was the executive who oversaw the Charlize Theron movie Atomic Blonde, and during his time at Focus the studio released acclaimed films such as BlackKklansman, Boy Erased, Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, Tully and Won’t You Be My Neighbor? I still can’t believe that the studio’s Mister Rogers documentary was snubbed of an Oscar nomination last year.
McLaughlin joined Focus from Chernin Entertainment, and prior to that he served as co-head of the motion picture division at The Mark Gordon Company after beginning his industry career at the Gersh Agency.
Focus has released several films this year, from The Mustang and Neil Jordan’s Greta to genre movies like Captive State and The Dead Don’t Die, and while none have exactly lit the box office on fire, The Mustang is often mentioned among the best films of the year, and the studio has a promising fall slate. That includes the Downtown Abbey movie, a Harriet Tubman drama starring Cynthia Erivo, and a new film from Todd Haynes starring Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway. I’m also looking forward to Jon Stewart‘s political comedy Irresistible, Edgar Wright‘s psychological thriller Last Night in Soho, and Emerald Fennell‘s thriller Promising Young Woman, all of which are due in 2020.
Focus is also developing a movie based on the acclaimed oral history book ESPN: Those Guys Have All the Fun; a Bill Hicks biopic from director Richard Linklater; and an English-language remake of the excellent French thriller Tell No One. If even one of these projects ever gets off the ground, it’ll make my day.