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Akira Kurosawa is one of the greatest directors ever to have lived, making classics such as Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Ran. He has directed 26 movies, written 24 other screenplays for other directors and has 19 unproduced screenplays. His influences included Shakespeare and Westerns.
The rights to all those works are now on the market for filmmakers. Variety reports that Splendent Media has brought the rights with the intention of striking deals to bring retellings to big screen among other things.
This massive deal for Splendent Media means they now have the right to remake all of Kurosawa’s movies including the right to use his unproduced screenplays. Many production companies in Europe and America were bidding for the rights.
Splendent Media’s founder Sakiko Yamada said:
“We are thrilled and deeply honored to have been entrusted to represent this spectacular treasure trove of films and screenplays, and to help contemporary filmmakers introduce a new generation of moviegoers to these unforgettable stories.”
Splendent Media’s only production to date is Al Pacino’s upcoming movie, Wilde Salome, based on Oscar Wilde’s controversial play Salome. Starring and directed by Pacino, Wilde Salome also starsJessica Chastain (Tree of Life) and Estelle Parsons (Bonnie and Clyde) and will premiere at the 2011 Venice Film Festival.
The production of remakes and unproduced screenplays can be very lucrative, but is also very risky because many of Kurosawa’s movies are renowned classics; fans tend to be hostile toward remakes. But Kurosawa’s movies have been remade before in the form of The Magnificent Seven (based on Seven Samurai) and A Fistful of Dollars (based on Yojimbo). But look at the remake of True Grit; it was very successful and many critics thought it was as good or better then the original, so anything is possible. Many film fans — at least in the art house scene — will want to see movies written by Kurosawa that have yet to hit the screen.
If the deal is successful and leads to unseen Kurosawa films, it could pave the way for a new market for other director’s unproduced works. Stanley Kubrick is known for having unproduced works like Napoleon and Aryan Papers, which fans of the beloved director have often imagined one day seeing.
Would you go see a new or remade Kurosawa film?