MUSE Productions is an independent film company founded in 1991 by Chris and Roberta Hanley. We are behind Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, American Psycho, Spun, Love Liza, Freeway…

MUSE quickly became a presence in the independent world with its breakout feature entitled FREEWAY, starring Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland, Amanda Plummer and Danny Hadaya. The film was written and directed by Matthew Bright and Executive Produced by Oliver Stone.

Just two weeks after FREEWAY wrapped production, MUSE began shooting Steve Buscemi’s directorial debut, TREES LOUGE. Buscemi, who also wrote and starred in the project, earned an Independent Spirit nomination for Best Director. TREES LOUNGE boasts an impressive cast of actors including Samuel L. Jackson, Chloe Sevigny, Mark Boone Jr., Kevin Corrigan, Danny Baldwin, Seymour Cassel, and Mimi Rogers.

Then in 1997 MUSE followed TREES LOUGE with the Jim Thompson thriller THIS WORLD, THEN THE FIREWORKS, which made its international premiere at the Cannes Film Festival’s with its director, Michael Oblowitz, up for the Camera D’or. Fireworks was adapted by Larry Gross (48 Hours) and stars Billy Zane, Gina Gershon, Sheryl Lee, and has outstanding supporting performances from Will Patton, Seymour Cassel, Richie Edson, and Rue McClanahan.

Next MUSE produced Academy Award nominated James Toback’s TWO GIRLS & GUY. The film starred Robert Downey Jr, Heather Graham, and Natasha Gregson Wagner. The film was co-produced and co-financed by MUSE and Ed Pressman. The US rights were sold to Fox Searchlight.

In 1998, MUSE produced Vincent Gallo’s stunning directorial debut BUFFALO 66. The film went on to compete at the Sundance Film Festival where it boasted an impressive cast including Anjelica Huston, Christina Ricci, Roasanna Arquette, Mickey Rourke, Ben Gazzara, and Kevin Corrigan.

Next MUSE produced I WOKE UP EARLY THE DAY I DIED, a screenplay originally written by the legendary Ed Wood. I WOKE EARLY went on to premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and stars Billy Zane with an amazing supporting cast including Christina Ricci, Johnathon Taylor Thomas, John Ritter, Will Patton, Tippi Hedron, and Ron Perlman. Directed by Aris lliopolis.

With the year 1998 also came Roberta Hanley feature film directorial debut WOUNDINGS. Adapted from a play by Jeff Noon (Vurt, Pollen), the film is set on the Isle of Man and stars Guy Pearce, Jonathon Schaech, Noah Taylor, and Emily Lloyd. WOUNDINGS premiered at the 1998 AFI Film Festival.

In 1999 MUSE produced Matthew Bright’s FREEWAY II: CONFESSIONS OF A TRICK BABY. The film was a twist on the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretle. It starred Natasha Lyonne, David Allen Greer, Michael T.Weiss, Max Perlich and Vincent Gallo.

Next MUSE produced Sofia Coppla’s adaptation of Jeffrey Eugenides best selling novel THE VIRGIN SUICIDES. In her directorial debut, Coppla gave a dreamlike depiction of the suicides of five sisters living in the upper middle class suburb of Detroit during the 1970’s. The film starred Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, Danny Devito, Kathleen Turner, and James Woods. Co-Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and Danny Halsted.

After years of development AMERICAN PSYCHO opened across the country in Spring 2000 in over 1000 theatres. The film starred Christian Bale, Reese Witherspoon, Jared Leto, Chloe Sevigny, Samantha Mathis and Willem Dafoe. Directed by Mary Harron.

In 2001 MUSE produced David McKenna and Roger Pullis’ BULLY, a screenplay based on actual events revolving around a group of suburban teens murdering one of their own in Florida. MUSE cast included an ensemble of young actors including Brad Renfro, Nick Stahl, Rachel Minor, Bijou Phillips, Michael Pitt, Kelli Garner. Larry Clark, whose credits include Kids and Ken Park, directed the film.

In 2002, MUSE released Todd Louiso’s dark comedy LOVE LIZA. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays Wilson Joel, a man who after his wife’s suicide becomes addicted to inhaling gasoline fumes and fascinated with model airplanes. The film also stars Oscar winning actress Kathy Bates, Jack Kehler, Sarah Koskoff and Stephen Tobolowsky.

In 2003 MUSE produced SPUN, a screwball black comedy that follows a methamphetamine dealer (Jason Schwartzman) over the course of a three-day drug binge. Director Jonas Akerlund brought a highly stylized view of alternate mindscapes in his depiction of a group addicts living in a dysfunctional Oregon community. MUSE cast for SPUN included Brittany Murphy, Mena Suvari, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts and Debbie Harry.

Another 2003 MUSE production was THIS GIRL’S LIFE, a film written and directed by Ash. The story is a slice of life drama about a porn star named Moon (played by Juliette Marquis). The film also stars James Woods, Michael Rapaport, Rosario Dawson and Kip Pardue.

Also in 2003, MUSE produced Adam Goldberg’s I LOVE YOUR WORK. The story is a dark psychological drama about the disintegration of Gray Evans, a movie star who is losing his grip on reality, unable to adjust to his own celebrity, and addicted to romantic fantasies about idealistic love and his once simple life. I LOVE YOUR WORK stars Giovanni Ribisi, Franka Potente, Christina Ricci and Joshua Jackson.

In 2004, MUSE produced Asia Argento’s THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS. Based on a JT LeRoy’s novel of the same name, Argento’s adaptation revolves around the tattered relationship between a drug addicted mother and her son. Alongside Argento, the film stars Jimmy Bennett, Peter Fonda and Kip Pardue.

In 2005, MUSE produced the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright David Mamet’s drama/thriller EDMOND. The film starred William H. Macy, Julia Stiles, Joe Mantegna, Debi Mazar, Mena Suvari, Denise Richards, and Bai Ling. Directed by Stuart Gordon.

In spring 2012, Harmony Korine began shooting Spring Breakers in St. Petersberg, Florida with MUSE as producers. We are happy to say that the film came out to rave reviews when it was released widely in spring 2013.

About CHRIS HANLEY, Producer and President of Muse Productions

Chris Hanley is best known for producing landmark films with independent spirit and popular reach which include Spring Breakers (2012), American Psycho (2000), and The Virgin Suicides (1999). They are often breakthrough films for the artists involved as well as items of enduring cultural value. The 38 produced titles over Hanley’s 23 year career cover an array of genres and include two documentaries features (Oliver Stone’s South of the Border (2009) and Castro in Winter (2012) ) and an Emmy nominated documentary miniseries (The Untold History of the United States (2012)).

Hanley was educated in English literature and philosophy (philosophy of the mind, artificial intelligence, mathematical physics) at Amherst College and Oxford for additional coursework. Hanley was a visiting scholar in philosophy at Columbia University and did postgraduate studies at the Rockefeller Institute in mathematics. From studies in pioneering neurological research on mind-brain identity, Turing machines and neural network algorithms including effects of music on neural pathways, Hanley seamlessly migrated to music production, forming Intergalactic Music in New York (from his own electronic music recording work at Hampshire College). Intergalactic became the studio that first introduced digital synthesis into pop recording artists, eventually earning a gold record for Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” which was the advent of electronic rap music. Hanley brought Intergalactic to the forefront of music production recording artists such as Ron Wood and Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Billy Idol, The Tibetan Monks of the Dalai Lama (on the 24 track), Bobby Brown, and recorded two albums of the Ramones.

In 1984, Hanley entered the burgeoning field of music video, forming Rock Video International and distributed music videos for the first time to Japan; his pioneering efforts included later bringing music videos to the U.S.S.R and to the rest of the Eastern Bloc for the first time in history. Hanley is later known as the father of karaoke in the West. Not only did Hanley and his RVI make history by first bringing music videos to all Asia, the Soviet and Eastern Bloc, but soon after he introduced the Japanese phenomenon of karaoke to the Western world, making the first Western audio and music videos the USA, England, Europe and then onto Africa and the Middle East had ever seen. The American and British productions involved 25 directors and 250 studio musicians in the filming of 1000 video clips and 1000 music publishing licenses.

Hanley segued from one visual arts medium to another when he founded Art Associates in 1987 originally to bring to market the art of Andy Warhol who he was friends with through the music studio and JeanMichel Basquiat who Hanley played music with in the New York underground music scene. By 1990, Art Associates was known internationally for representing to collectors the biggest names in contemporary art such as Warhol, Basquiat, Richard Prince, Damien Hirst, Julian Schnabel, Ed Ruscha, Roy Lichtenstein, and Keith Haring, who he was friends with.

Hanley founded Muse Productions with his wife Roberta Hanley in 1991. Its first outing was the sci-fi actioner Split Second (1992). Starring Rutger Hauer and Kim Cattrall, and featuring special effects by Stephen Norrington of Aliens (1986) fame, the film (directed by The Burning (1981)’s Tony Maylam) has gone on to achieve cult status.

Hanley’s first films based in Venice Beach, California was a collaboration with Oliver Stone and Reese Witherspoon on the film Freeway (1996) from former Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo first-time director and screenwriter Matthew Bright, a cult favorite updating of Little Red Riding Hood costarring Kiefer Sutherland. Right behind that by two weeks, Chris Hanley then began work with Steve Buscemi on the actor’s directorial debut Trees Lounge (1996) which starred Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny and Samuel L. Jackson. Released in 1996, the film earned Buscemi, Hanley and producer Brad Wyman Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best First Feature.

Thus began the dominant threads of Hanley’s career an eye for fresh and engaging material and a track record of films generating both stars and controversy, sometimes reviving the then slow-paced careers of today’s leading names Robert Downey Jr., Christian Bale, and Mickey Rourke. 1997’s sexually charged relationship drama Two Girls and a Guy (written and directed by James Toback and starring Robert Downey Jr. and Heather Graham) made industry headlines not only when it received an NC17 rating before being re-cut nine times for an R rating for its theatrical release by Fox Searchlight but more for the fact that Downey Jr., straight from his jail sentence, showed that he still had the stuff of acting legend. Hanley garnered another Independent Spirit Award nomination, shared with Vincent Gallo, for producing the divisive actor’s directorial debut Buffalo ’66 (1998). The Virgin Suicides, which Hanley produced with Francis Ford Coppola, was a breakthrough for its director and star, first-time helmer Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst. Hanley through his New York art crowd got introduced to Bret Easton Ellis and brought to the screen American Psycho (2000). The film that put Christian Bale on the map (and also starred Reese Witherspoon, Willem Dafoe, Chloë Sevigny, Justin Theroux, Jared Leto, and Josh Lucas) re-sparked discussion over depictions of violence against women and the male-dominated Wall St. and the obfuscation of the American Dream, a theme revisited again on a different turf in Hanley’s 2013 release of auteur Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (2013). The controversy that had surrounded the source novel by Easton Ellis, at one time dropped by its publisher and banned from 70% of bookstores in the USA, was once again part of the national conversation. The same year Hanley produced Bully (2001), a return to form for its director Larry Clark (Kids (1995), which starred Bijou Phillips, Michael Pitt, Kelli Garner, Nick Stahl, Leo Fitzpatrick, and the late Brad Renfro. 2003 saw the release of: Spun (2002), the first feature by Jonas Åkerlund (of banned “Smack My Bitch Up” music video fame and later Lady Gaga clip helmer) which starred Jason Schwartzman, Brittany Murphy, Mickey Rourke, Mena Suvari, and John Leguizamo. Next up was Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible (2002), which Hanley distributed in the United States using the distribution pipeline he formed with Lionsgate on American Psycho. Theaters showing this film displayed “no refund” signs in box office windows, egging on squeamish audiences. The release of 2004’s The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things (directed by and starring Asia Argento) sparked the “coming out” of noted author Laura Albert from the pseudonymous persona of J.T. Leroy and landmark legal issue ensued over authorship identity. In 2005, Hanley collaborated with renowned playwright and Oscarnominated screenwriter David Mamet and horror maestro director Stuart Gordon on Edmond (2005), adapted by Mamet from his play and starring William H. Macy and Julia Stiles. Hanley was a producer on Hounddog (2007), which made entertainment news headlines stemming from its portrayal by Dakota Fanning of a victim of rape in her first “adult” role.

Hanley opened the following decade with a bang. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010, The Killer Inside Me (directed by Michael Winterbottom and starring Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, and Kate Hudson) prompted walkouts and outcries due to its realistic depictions of psychological misanthropic violence faithful to the Jim Thompson source novel.

Hanley continues to work with the world’s leading filmmakers producing films including Fernando Meirelles and Peter Morgan’s 360 (2011) with Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, and Ben Foster; Oliver Stone’s South of the Border (2010); Nick Cassavetes’s Yellow (2012) with Ray Liotta, Sienna Miller, Melanie Griffith, David Morse, and Gena Rowlands), and Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (2012), starring James Franco, Selena Gomez, and Vanessa Hudgens; and again with Oliver Stone again in 2015 as he is producing the documentary on Vladimir Putin on Putin’s home turf Moscow and throughout the world including the United Nations. His latest feature as producer is London Fields, directed by Mathew Cullen and starring Amber Heard, Jim Sturgess, Theo James, Billy Bob Thornton, and Johnny Depp, based on the bestselling novel by Martin Amis, which again has triggered legal issues of authorship and identity in a worldwide media forum.

 

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Oscar-Nominated and Oscar-Winning Actors MUSE Has Worked With:

Female Film Directors MUSE Has Worked With: 

First-Time Directors MUSE Has Worked With: