Focus Features, the specialty label of Universal Pictures, has been in a period of transition over the last few years following recent internal overhauls. The distributor- who has found Oscar-winning success in years past with acclaimed indie including Brokeback Mountain (2005), Lost in Translation (2004) and Dallas Buyers Club (2013)- may have a picked up a potential winner in Jeff Nichols‘ Loving, a new period drama starring Joel Egerton (Black Mass) and Ruth Negga (World War Z).
Focus recently acquired North American rights to the drama (along with several foreign territories), ponying up about $9 million in a deal brokered at the recent Berlin Film Festival. Loving centers on the true story of Richard and Milred Loving (Egerton and Negga), a mixed-race couple who married in Virginia in the late 1950s. Their union became a landmark early battle in the Civil Rights Movement as both were jailed and later banished by their home state- interracial marriage at the time being illegal.
Nichols, who is soon set to premiere Midnight Special, has been recently impressing critics and cinephiles with acclaimed independent features Take Shelter (2011) and Mud (2013). Like all of the aforementioned films, Loving will also co-star Oscar nominated actor Michael Shannon (99 Homes). Egerton, currently on screen in the quickly fading Jane Got a Gun, was last seen on screen in Black Mass and last summer directed, wrote and starred in the thriller The Gift (for which he recently earned a DGA nomination for Best Debut Filmmaker). Egerton will also appear in Midnight Special. Negga, likely best know for her role of Raina on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., recently appeared in World War Z, Jimi: All Is By My Side and had an uncredited appearance in Steve McQueen’s Oscar winning 12 Years a Slave. She will next appear in Warcraft.
Loving is currently in post-production. No release date has been confirmed but may make an appearance during the fall festival season and chart a 2016 awards friendly release.