Universal Pictures has won a hard-fought battle forEnglish-language remake rights to Bong Joon-ho's South Korean horror smash TheHost.

Gold Circle Films chief Paul Brooks and Vertigo Entertainmentco-chiefs Roy Lee and Doug Davison will serve as producers. Cineclick Asia,which handled sales on the original, negotiated the remake deal.

Scott Niemeyer and Norm Waitt will handle executive producerduties and Gold Circle's senior vice president of production Zak Kadison willserve as co-producer and oversee production for the company.

Universal executives Peter Cramer and David Ortiz will oversee forthe studio.

Other players known to have chased the rights included 20thCentury Fox, Plan B and producerMike De Luca.

Produced by Chungeorahm Film, The Host screened in the DirectorsFortnight strand at this year's Cannes and opened in South Korea on Jul 27.

It went on to obliterate the all-time box office admissions recordby the beginning of September, overtaking King And The Clown's 12.3m mark.

The $11m original centres on a mutant sea creature that createshavoc in the streets of Seoul and chases a dysfunctional family as they try torescue their daughter captured by the beast.

Magnolia Pictures holds English-language rights to the originaland will release it in North America in February 2007.