Focus Features brought with it four films to Deadline’s the Contenders event today at the DGA Theatre, including animated feature Kubo and the Two Strings. Director-producer Travis Knight discussed the challenges of making “something that is a small-scale movie and make it feel like a large epic.”


The pic took five years to make. “It’s filmmaking at the pace of a glacier,” Knight quipped to Deadline’s Pete Hammond, who moderated the panel. “You have to be completely committed or slightly mad, but when you devote that much time of your life, you want to make sure it matters and its meaningful.” Written by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, the feature, which marks Knight’s directorial debut, was released in August and has taken in $67.6M worldwide to date.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Buchan/DDH/REX/Shutterstock (7059547dy) Tom Ford The Contenders 2016: Presented by Deadline, Los Angeles, USA - 05 Nov 2016

“The real center of the story is about finding people in your life that you love, that mean something to you, and not letting them go,” said Nocturnal Animals writer-director Tom Ford during his film’s portion of the panel. “It’s a cautionary tale of what can happen to you if you do let them go.” The romantic thriller starring Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson bows November 18 in limitd release and expands nationwide December 9. When asked about his jump from fashion to film, Ford said: “I love fashion but it’s quick and does not last very long. Film is forever. For someone who has a story to tell and who loves to design things, the ultimate design is to design people’s lives… and it lives forever.”

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Buchan/DDH/REX/Shutterstock (7059547cw) Jeff Nichols The Contenders 2016: Presented by Deadline, Los Angeles, USA - 05 Nov 2016

Focus Features’ Loving is the biopic about the real-life couple Richard and Mildred Loving, whose interracial marriage became the center of a landmark civil rights case, debuted this weekend in limited release. Writer-director Jeff Nichols talked about relevance of the case 50 years later. “The sad reality is that we’re going to need this film and this story in 20 years, 30 years, 40 years,” he said. “The reality is equality is not something we just solve. It is something that every generation has to define for itself. Right now we’re in a period where we need a new definition of how we’re going to deal with equality.”  The film, which premiered in Cannes, stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga.

Also on hand in the DGA Theatre was A Monster Calls illustrator Jim Kay. The film, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, was written by Patrick Ness and follows a boy (Lewis MacDougall) who seeks the help of a tree monster to help him can cope with his single mother’s terminal disease. Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell and Liam Neeson star. After positive audience and press reactions from early screenings, Focus Features mounted an aggressive festival rollout for the movie. A Monster Calls launches a top 10-city limited run on December 23 before going wide in 1,500 theaters on January 6.