By Mark Schilling
1) Is the Hollywood jury still out on Asian remakes? Or has the success of "The Ring" opened all
the studio doors?
I think Hollywood will always be open to Asian remakes, or remakes from any region, as long as
the story itself is good. THE RING was helpful in showing the studios that Asian films have the
potential. But, that potential has always been there and always will be. I think that at the heart of
the matter is the fact that ideas will be generated from anyone who has a creative vision and
those minds are not limited to the United States. Creative minds are flourishing worldwide and
because of the growth of the film industries outside Hollywood, it is giving opportunities for them to
show the world new and different ideas from people who did not have the opportunity to do so.
2) Horror and comedy seem to be the two big remake genres, but are others coming along? For
example, in Japan romantic dramas are hot now. Are they piquing Hollywood's interest yet or are
the cultural barriers still set too high?
As for the different genres, I believe that certain genres are easier to translate to different cultures,
namely thrillers and comedies. However, the more a story is rooted in a certain culture, the harder
it will be to translate that story for another culture.
3) What's the appeal of Japanese and other Asian films anyway? Are they just an exotic flavor --
or are they delivering the entertainment goods in ways that a lot of Hollywood film aren't?
The films from areas outside of Hollywood are telling stories from new perspectives that give them
a fresh, new spin to them. As long as a story is interesting there will always be a demand to tell
that story to a wider audience especially when a remake would broaden the potential audience.
Yes, certain films can cross cultural boundaries and be successful in the original format, with
subtitles, but those films are few and far between. I would even argue that those films like
CROUCHING TIGER and HERO are so culturally based that it would be impossible to do a
remake that would work in a different setting.
4) A lot of Asian remake deals have been signed in the past few years, but relatively few remakes
have actually reached the screens. Is there a glut? Are producers being hit with so many remake
proposals that they filing them in their "delete" folder?
The development process in Hollywood is a lot slower than one would be lead to believe. THE
RING was an unusual case where the development and progress to production was a lot faster
than normal films. In Hollywood, there are hundred of other projects that are put into development
that take a long time to make it to the screen and the remakes are in the same company as the
other projects that may or may not ever make it to fruition. However, the development of remakes
of non-Hollywood titles can be somewhat easier because the studio can see a template of what
works and doesn't in relation to English language speaking audience.
5) Are Japanese right holders more savvy about Hollywood than when you were first pitching
Ringu? What are the main problems areas you've found (or heard about) in not only closing deals,
but getting films made?
Yes, the rights holders to non-Hollywood films are seeing the potential in selling the remake rights
to titles and are taking that into consideration when planning they productions. Also, the producers
are getting more and more involved in the remakes of their original titles. A good example would
be Taka Ichise who is actively producing the remake of JU-ON (now known as THE GRUDGE).
The problems that I have seen is that sometimes the rights holders have certain expectations on
the value of the remake rights of a film to be equal to that of something else that sold earlier. Each
film has a certain value depending upon elements such as the success of the original title. More
important I think is the manner in which the remake is packages with the studios. For example, I
would try and package a remake title with an A-list writer or actor that immediately makes the
project more appealing to the studios.