STRANGER THAN FICTION Commences Principal Photography in Chicago

Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah and Emma Thompson, Topline for Director Marc Forster


Principal photography began today in downtown Chicago on Mandate Pictures' comedy STRANGER THAN FICTION directed by Marc Forster. Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah and Emma Thompson star in the comedy about one character's search for his author. The film was written by Zach Helm, his first produced screenplay, and is being produced by Lindsay Doran. STRANGER THAN FICTION will be released by Columbia Pictures in the United States and a number of international territories.

In STRANGER THAN FICTION, Will Ferrell plays Harold Crick, an IRS Agent whose world is turned upside-down when he begins to hear his life being chronicled by a narrator only he can hear. The Narrator, Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson), a nearly forgotten author of tragic novels, is struggling to complete her latest and best book, unaware that her protagonist is alive and uncontrollably guided by her words. Fiction and reality collide when the bewildered and hilariously resistant Harold hears the Narrator say that events have been set in motion that will lead to his imminent death.

Desperate to escape his fate, Harold seeks help from eccentric English professor Dr. Jules Hilbert (Dustin Hoffman) and finds unexpected comfort in a burgeoning romance with a defiant audit subject, Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Unluckily for Harold, Kay's impatient publishers have unleashed a stern assistant named Penny Escher (Queen Latifah) to help the author finish her book and finish off Harold Crick.

Forster was nominated for a Golden GlobeĀ® and a Director's Guild of America Award in 2005 for directing FINDING NEVERLAND, starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet. The director first won international acclaim for MONSTER'S BALL starring Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry in her OscarĀ®-winning role. 20th Century Fox will release Forster's next film, STAY starring Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts and Ryan Gosling, this fall.

STRANGER THAN FICTION is produced by Lindsay Doran (SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, THE FIRM, and Universal's upcoming NANNY MCPHEE).

STRANGER THAN FICTION is Forster's third collaboration with Eric Kopeloff who produced STAY and MONSTER'S BALL. Kopeloff serves as executive producer on the film along with Nathan Kahane (THE GRUDGE, HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE) and Joe Drake (LORDS OF DOGTOWN, THE GRUDGE, HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE). The co-producers are Jim Miller (HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE) and Aubrey Henderson (THE GRUDGE).

The director of photography, Roberto Schaefer and editor Matt Chesse previously worked with Forster on STAY, FINDING NEVERLAND and MONSTER'S BALL. Production designer Kevin Thompson and costume designer Frank Fleming both recently collaborated with Forster on STAY.

About Mandate Pictures

Mandate Pictures is based in Los Angeles and led by entertainment industry

veteran Joe Drake. Mandate Pictures is an independent film production and distribution company dedicated to the development, financing, production and distribution of filmed entertainment. It is a major supplier of quality commercial projects for the studios and major independents worldwide. Ghost House Pictures, Mandate's joint venture with Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, produced the box office phenomena The Grudge and the record-breaking Boogeyman. Mandate is also currently in development with Universal Pictures and Vertigo Entertainment on Strangers and produced the comedy Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle for New Line Cinema last year.

About Columbia Pictures

Columbia Pictures, part of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, is a Sony Pictures Entertainment company. Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America (SCA), a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; digital content creation and distribution; worldwide channel investments; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of filmed entertainment in 67 countries. Sony Pictures Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web at

   Media Contacts:

   Will Casey

   Natalie Johnson
   Columbia Pictures

   Brent Jack
   Mandate Pictures

SOURCE: Columbia Pictures

CONTACT: Will Casey, Unit-Publicist, +1-323-377-5563, for Columbia
Pictures; or Natalie Johnson of Columbia Pictures, +1-310-244-3236; or Brent
Jack of Mandate Pictures, +1-310-300-2056