EXCLUSIVE: John Lyons, the former Focus Features President of Production who steered such Oscar-winning films as Milk, Brokeback Mountain and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, has signed a multi-year first look production deal at Topic Studios.
Under the agreement, Lyons will develop and produce feature film projects for the Oscar-winning Spotlight studio to finance. At Focus, Lyons was also behind such acclaimed features as Joel and Ethan Coen’s Burn After Reading and A Serious Man, Cary Fukanaga’s Sin Nombre and Jane Eyre. Lyons’ independent producing credits include Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight and Boogie Nights, Peter Hedges’ Pieces of April, and Universal’s Sisters as well as the HBO series The Young Pope with Paolo Sorrentino.
“John has been involved with so many great films and filmmakers, from the Coen brothers and Raising Arizona to Paul Thomas Anderson and Boogie Nights, to all his work during Focus Features heyday as ground zero for ambitious, culture-defining movies,” said Adam Pincus, EVP Programming & Content for First Look Media/Topic. “As we continue to build Topic, John’s eye for a compelling story and his close creative relationships are going to be a huge help in expanding our slate of projects.”
“In a time of huge turmoil in the movie business, I’m really happy to have found a home at Topic Studios. I’ve become a huge fan of Topic as well as its sister companies under First Look Media, including The Intercept and Field of Vision,” said Lyons. “The energy of the company reminds me of the integrity, irreverence, and vision that made Focus a home for global filmmakers of every stripe. I’m looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with Adam, Ryan Heller, and Lisa Leingang, and making great movies together.”
Current projects at Topic Studios include Debra Granik’s Sundance Film Festival premiere Leave No Trace, and Kimberly Reed’s political documentary Dark Money, both currently in theaters. Upcoming projects include comedic drama The Climb from filmmaking team Michael Covino and Kyle Marvin; On the Other Side, the story of war correspondent Kate Webb starring Carey Mulligan; and Rodrigo Prieto’s directorial debut Bastard, with EPs Martin Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff of Sikelia Productions, alongside Jordan Horowitz (La La Land) and Annie Marter as producers. The studio is also behind the documentary XY Chelsea, about the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst and trans woman Chelsea Manning, with Pulse Films, FOV & BFI, which was picked up by Showtime.