Vincent Must Die

Source: Goodfellas

‘Vincent Must Die’

Remakes got the royal treatment this year at the Marché du Film, tapping into what is a booming business in local-language adaptations and potential of European IP to reach global audiences. While fears of Hollywood transforming into a risk-averse machine of AI-generated reboots, remakes and franchise films abound, adapting independent European IP for global markets has the potential to extend strong narratives across borders and repackage them with local talent and a fresh take from different writers and filmmakers.

Remakes also offer producers and buyers quicker turnaround from script to screen, reduced risk and confirmed marketability, as the industry continues to recover from the pandemic, strikes and belt-tightening across the board. Cannes Remakes, launched in partnership with France’s CNC, curated a selection of European feature-film IPs that have been successful in their original territories, with strong potential for international adaptations. The projects were pitched on Monday (May 20), after which a series of pre-arranged one-to-one meetings took place, followed by a networking event for producers and buyers.

Among the selected titles were Stéphan Castang’s modern twist on the zombie movie Vincent Must Die, Anna Novion’s mathematics-focused drama Marguerite’s Theorem, David Victori’s Goya-winning thriller Cross The Line and Margherita Vicario’s musical feature Gloria!. Marché du Film’s Spotlight Asia programme also showcased Japanese animated romance feature Chao from Studio4°C Co. A workshop at the Producers Club tackled the role of independent producers in IP development and how to adapt writing for different formats and leverage talent to diversify and strengthen films based on such IP.

guillaume esmiol

Source: Cannes Film Festival

Guillaume Esmiol

Guillaume Esmiol, Marché du Film’s executive director, tells Screen the appeal of remakes is that “there is already a developed story with proven marketability among audiences. Even if the story is already strong, sometimes adapting it to another region can boost its success.”

Remakes and reboots are highlighted among the 2024 Hollywood releases — Mean Girls, Road House, Twisters, The Fall Guy, Garfield. In the works are an adaptation of The NeverEnding Story, Michael Ende’s German novel that became a 1980s-’90s film franchise, and John Woo’s remake of his own The Killer starring Omar Sy, which just wrapped shooting in Paris.

Festival favourites

The reboot renaissance has crossed over to Cannes. Michel Hazanavicius’ Final Cut (Coupez!), which opened the festival in 2022, is a remake of Japanese zombie movie One Cut Of The Dead. Catherine Breillat’s 2023 Competition feature Last Summer, set for a limited US release on June 28 through Janus Films and Sideshow, is a French remake of Danish film Queen Of Hearts. Netflix just released Julien Leclercq’s French-language The Wages Of Fear at the end of March, a remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s action thriller, which won the grand prize in Cannes in 1953 and also inspired William Friedkin’s 1977 film Sorcerer.

Over at the market, Newen Connect launched sales at EFM for Gilles Bourdos’s Cross Away, a French remake of Steven Knight’s 2013 film Locke starring Tom Hardy. SND kicked off sales for Sea The Sea starring Dany Boon and Audrey Fleurot, a French remake of Pedro Pablo Ibarra’s Mexican box-office hit Ya Veremos.

Catherine Hardwicke is set to direct A French Pursuit, a remake of 2020 French box-office hit My Donkey, My Lover & I (Antoinette Dans Les Cévennes), to star Toni Collette and produced by New Sparta Productions, Collette’s Vocab Films and HanWay Films.

“It did so well in France and, for the rest of us, it’s a trip abroad — particularly for people who have never been to the Cévennes,” says Katie Ellen, head of production at HanWay. “Remakes afford all of us the opportunity to tell a story with a proven track record, and with it reach new audiences. Great examples are obviously CODA, The Birdcage and Peter’s Friends.

Cultural differences

My Donkey, My Lover & I

Source: Playtime

My Donkey, My Lover & I

A French Pursuit’s English-language screenplay, penned by Bafta-nominated screenwriter Olivia Hetreed, is also set in the Cévennes. It sticks to the same general storyline, about a schoolteacher who follows her married lover and his wife on a hiking trip through the picturesque mountains of the region with a donkey. In the new version, the lead character is British instead of French, which, says New Sparta’s Christopher Simon, “lends itself to cultural differences and a language divide which makes it something distinctive and original in its own right”.

IP-focused Maremako Films, which negotiated the deal for A French Pursuit, recently snapped up remake rights to 2015 South Korean thriller Chronicles Of Evil for a French-language feature that it will co-produce with Pulsar; Régis Blondeau is attached to direct. It also sold remake rights to Closer Media and HanWay for a UK-US adaptation of 2022 French film Kitchen Brigade about a chef who leaves a fancy restaurant to work in a canteen for young immigrants.

“A remake is so much more than a copy — it’s an interpretation,” says Muriel Sauzay, co-founder of Maremako. “Remakes allow films to be resuscitated and find different audiences.

HanWay’s Ellen adds: “Working with strong IP, namely a core story with a proven track record of drawing in audiences, is compelling. A remake offers new creative teams an exciting opportunity to build on that core story, bring in a new cast and create their own version to embellish it, personalise it and reach new audiences.”

Plus, the reduction of risk in such a volatile market is key. “The fact you can direct buyers to the original and also show them a script for a new version gives them a good sense of what they’re dealing with,” continues Ellen. “You’re asking people to part with a large sum of money; pre-selling is a very risky business and this reduces the element of risk. Buyers have a clearer sense of what they’re pre-buying. They can envision the audience.”

Remakes are clearly not a novel concept. But, observes Sauzay, “What has changed is that before, many directors, particularly in France, would turn up their noses and say, ‘Over my dead body’. Today, remakes are no longer shameful. Filmmaking today is more and more polymorphous.”

France’s Other Angle Pictures has expanded its footprint into the US market, with a new Los Angeles-based arm spearheading remakes. The company is here pitching Anna Novion’s César-winning Cannes 2023 premiere Marguerite’s Theorem, which Other Angle co-founder Oliver Albou says “would make a great Hollywood film, like a modern Good Will Hunting”.

Albou also acknowledges that the remakes market is “not new — we’ve been selling remake rights for more than a decade and counting”. But he says buyers are on the lookout more than ever, and Other Angle has been selling both original films and remake rights as packages.

“More and more buyers are telling us, ‘We want the film — and the remake rights,’” he continues. “So we bundle the original film and the remake; they nourish each other.”

Other Angle has around five remake projects in the works, including several versions of local French hit Retirement Home which has sold to Italy, Germany, Spain and Latin America for local adaptations. “We made more money on the remake than the original,” reveals Albou.

Plus, “the fact there is a sequel helps, because it shows buyers there is the possibility of a franchise,” he says of the follow-up title Oldies But Goodies, sold by Ginger & Fed. At the market, Other Angle has high hopes for remake sales to A Little Something Extra, Artus’ father-son comedy set in a summer camp for young adults with disabilities, which in early May became the best opener for a French film since before the pandemic.

With any luck, the films pitched at Cannes Remakes will hit screens in local markets disguised as new films. Sauzay confirms: “The sign of a good remake is when audiences don’t know it’s a remake.”