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Los Angeles (July 11, 2011) – Mandate Pictures announced today that Spike Lee (Inside Man) will direct OLDBOY, a remake of the highly-acclaimed South Korean film. Mark Protosevich has adapted the screenplay and will co-produce. Roy Lee and Doug Davison (The Departed, The Grudge) will produce. The film is a Vertigo Entertainment/40 Acres & A Mule Production. Mandate President Nathan Kahane will executive produce.
“It’s a great honor to put this special project into the hands of such a gifted writer and iconic director,” said Kahane.
OLDBOY tells the story of a man who is kidnapped and imprisoned on his daughter’s birthday. For fifteen years, he is held captive, and, upon his release, must begin his journey to find the reason for his imprisonment. He soon finds out that his kidnapper has plans for him more tortuous than his solitary confinement. The original film, released in 2003, directed by Chan-wook Park won the Grand Prize Jury Award at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
The announcement seems to be generating a mixed reaction from the public. However, their distaste stems from the idea that most believe Oldboy is not a film that can be remade successfully for American audiences, let alone at all. If you have seen this film, you understand why (two words: live octopus). Many are questioning whether said remake will take the tamer material found in the original manga, or will replicate the violent imagery found in the South Korean original. One can only speculate at this time.
Back in 2009, it was thought that Will Smith (ugh) would be starring in a remake, with Steven Spielberg's involvement. Mandate and Dreamworks (Spielberg's studio) were looking to secure the story rights from the South Korean film when Dreamworks, according to Latino Review, "walked away." It's likely the two companies could not agree on financial details, but to this day, nothing has been confirmed as to why the two parties could not get off the ground together.
Making things even more complicated for the project was securing the rights to do it; the creators of the Japanese manga (on which the original film is based) were in the process of suing the Korean production company for an alleged breach of contract. This hurdle of securing the rights, combined with a hostile fanbase afraid that they would tone down the dark theme of the original film, was cause enough to shelve the idea. However, like any dark cloud, it has risen once more. Can Lee deliver an adaptation that is faithful to the original film without scaring off American audiences?