20th Century Fox is moving fast to bulk up local productions for its new Fox International Productions (FIP) unit, signing a production deal with Fuji TV in Japan to remake Alexander Payne's Oscar-winning Sideways.

'There is a growing affection for wine and the art of savouring wine in Japan and they took an interest in the remake idea,' explained Fox co-chairman and co-CEO Jim Gianopulos, who was in town yesterday with the new president of FIP Sanford Panitch.

FIP is focusing initially on production in Japan, Germany, Russia and India and is looking to work with local producers and directors in developing projects in those territories.

Russia's Timur Bekmambetov is already in pre-production on Dusk Watch the third in his fantasy trilogy and will also produce an effects-driven movie
for Fox which Panitch describes as 'Independence Day in Moscow.'

Fox has a first-look deal with leading Japanese producer Taka Ichise with whom Panitch worked on Fox/New Regency production Shutter directed by Masayuki Ochiai. The Tokyo-set horror film, a remake of a 1994 Thai film, was shot in both Japanese and English-language versions.

The English version opened in the US on March 21, while the Japanese version will open in Sept in Japan.