Japanese director and comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto’s 2007 directorial debut Big Man Japan (Dai-Nipponjin) is to be remade in the US by Columbia Pictures and Original Film.

English-language remake and sequel rights were sold by Matsumoto’s agency Yoshimoto Kogyo and affiliate Yoshimoto Creative Agency, who produce Matsumoto’s features.

Announced by Columbia’s president of production Hannah Minghella, the remake will be produced through producer Neal H. Moritz’s Original Film with development overseen by Toby Jaffe. Moritz’s credits include Battle: Los Angeles, The Green Hornet and I Am Legend. Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi will write the screenplay.

Big Man Japan screened as a world premiere in Directors Fortnight in Cannes 2007 and made $14.4m (Y1.16b) in Japan. Following a successful festival run it received a limited US theatrical release in 2009 through Magnet Releasing.

Told in a mockumentary style with CG effects throughout, the story depicts a societal outcast and career failure (Matsumoto) who hails from a family endowed with super-growth powers that do battle with giant monsters.

Also involved in the remake deal was Yoshimoto Kogyo USA CEO Aki Yorihiro. Yorihiro previously developed links with Moritz’s agency CAA to work on localizations of US and Japanese television properties. The Japanese adaptation of Saturday Night Live debuted on Fuji TV this past weekend.

Matsumoto commented on the news at the media premiere of his latest directorial effort Scabbard Samurai(Saya-zamurai), held today at the Tokyo International Forum: “I’m really pleased my work has been recognized in this way,” he said. Matsumoto will apparently have some input into the remake’s title and story.

As reported last week, the Locarno International Film Festival (Aug 3-13) will screen the international premiere of Scabbard Samurai at its 8,000-seat Piazza Grande outdoor venue. Matsumoto’s two previous films, Big Man Japan and Symbol, will also be shown as part of a special spotlight.

With Matsumoto’s international profile increasing, other international autumn festival dates are also in the works, according to a Yoshimoto press rep. International sales are being handled by Yoshimoto Kogyo with co-operation from Phantom Film.