Columbia Pictures has picked updomestic distribution rights from Senator International to The Grudge, Ghost House Pictures' English-language remake ofthe Japanese horror thriller Ju-On.

The Grudgecentres on a lethal curse that passes like a virus among its victims and killsthem in the grip of a powerful rage.

The project is scheduled to start shooting at Tokyo's TohoStudios in January 2004 and will be directed by Takashi Shimizu, who directedthe original.

Ghost House Pictures is the genre-film co-venture of Sam Raimi,Rob Tapert and Senator International, which is financing the film.

Raimi, Tapert and the film's original producer Taka Ichise (Ringu) will produce the English languageversion, while Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane of Senator International will serveas executive producers alongside Roy Lee and Doug Davison, who brokered theremake deal.

"The Grudge has all the elements that make a great thriller and withfilmmakers like Taka Ichise and Sam Raimi steering the production, we have nodoubt it will be as scary and ingenious as the original," Columbia'sco-president of production Matt Tolmach said in a statement.

Sony's Screen Gems division hadalready acquired North American distribution rights to Ghost House's Boogeyman, which tells the story of a young man who returns tohis childhood home to confront terrifying visions.

Stephen T Kay directed Boogeyman which is due to be released in the US inAugust 2004.