Not one, but two films by French director Patrice Leconte are set for English-language remake treatment.
According to multiple US sources, Leconte's most recent effort, The Man On The Train (L'Homme Du Train) is poised to be set up via Warner Bros, while earlier drama Monsieur Hire is likely to be made in the UK with Leconte himself in the director's chair.
The Man On The Train, a light drama about a bank robber and a retired schoolteacher who want to swap their lives, premiered at the Venice festival last September. There, Paramount Classics picked up licences for the US, most English-language territories and Latin America.
But as the specialist division is not a producing operation it decided against acquiring the remake rights, which remained with French production house CineB. The film was a hit at the Los Angeles AFI Festival in November and Paramount Classics will release in the US on May 9.
Speaking recently with Screen International, Leconte said that three Hollywood studios had sought to buy the rights. Since then it has emerged that in talks brokered by remake specialist Vertigo Entertainment, two studios entered discussions.
Warner Bros is now expected to emerge victorious and announce a deal within days or weeks. In response to an earlier version of this story, for which he offered no comment, CineB boss Philippe Carcassonne, acknowledged the studio interest. But he said that he was not aware a deal was imminent and added that talent agency CAA would be likely to be involved.
While clearly a deal has yet to be finalised, Brad Pitt is tipped by some sources as a candidate for the role of the bank robber, played in Leconte's original by French rocker Johnny Hallyday.
Leconte, who started his career with some big comedy hits, may have lost some appeal with audiences in his native France. But he remains popular with foreign art-house crowds thanks to affectionate character development and polished scripts.
Leconte said that over the years since the 1989 release of Monsieur Hire he has a constant flow of requests for the English-language remake rights.
Based on a Georges Simenon novel, the film is a character study of a reclusive man (Michel Blanc), who spies on a woman neighbour (Sandrine Bonnaire) and is suspected of murder by the police.
Now instead of selling them off, he says he would like to use the rights himself. He wants to set the picture in the UK and has sought out a British scriptwriter as partner.
The move could be seen as a returned compliment to the UK's Film Council which made The Man On The Train its first foreign-language investment.
Leconte is unclear whether the British Monsieur Hire will be his next picture, but he said that after Confidences Trop Intimes - with Bonnaire again and Fabrice Luchini - which went into production this month, he is looking for "a change of direction".