Remake rights for Thai genre movies are increasingly in demand from film-makers in Asia and the US. Silvia Wong reports.
Initial Entertainment Group's take on Danny and Oxide Pang's 1999 action thriller Bangkok Dangerous stars Nicolas Cage and is directed by the Pang brothers themselves.
It is the first high-budget English-language remake of a Thai film to make it into production. Other remakes in the works include the psychological thriller 13, optioned by The Weinstein Company from Sahamongkolfilm International in a deal that includes North American rights to the original film.
At Cannes this year, former Buena Vista senior executive Ludo Cremers of US start-up 24 Frames bought GTH's Alone (pictured above), just a month after it was released in Thailand. He says US film-makers are keen to work with Thai material.
'The directors know the best thrillers and horror films are built on common, identifiable and recognisable themes such as, in this case, sibling rivalry, romantic jealousy and family guilt,' says Cremers. 'The dark, psycho-thriller elements recall the best of Alfred Hitchcock and Brian De Palma. Alone is a cut above the wave of horror titles released in recent years.'
Alone is the second English-language deal for Thai horror masters Parkpoom Wongpoom and Banjong Pisanthanakun. The duo's Shutter was previously optioned by New Regency in a deal brokered by Roy Lee of Los Angeles-based Vertigo Entertainment. The new film has started filming in Tokyo with Masayuki Ochiai directing and Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor leading the cast.
'It's always cheaper (for Hollywood) to buy something fully developed (that has) proved successful with local audiences,' says Fortissimo Films' Wouter Barendrecht who is now prepping the US remake of Pen-ek Ratanaruang's comedy thriller 6ixtynin9 with Bohemian Films.
Korea has also started to take note of Thai films. K&Entertainment recently bought Korean remake rights to the horror film The Victim from RS Film through Hong Kong-based sales agent Golden Network. The company has also optioned Mono Film's romantic drama Me Myself about a gay man who falls for a woman after losing his memory.
'Thai films always carry very unique concepts. No Korean films have ever explored similar ideas to these two films,' K&Entertainment's Kiho Nam explains. 'But cultural differences mean we'll tweak the storyline of the remakes to suit the Korean style.'