Hollywood's fervour for remaking Asian genre titles is reaching fever pitch.
Dimension Films has acquired North American and remake rights to Cinema Service's comedy-drama that has the working title Teacher Mr Kim.
And separately, Cineclick Asia is finalising a deal with Los Angeles-based production and distribution group Mosaic Media for an English-language remake of Oasis
The Mr Kim deal is believed to be the first of its kind for a Korean film which has yet to be released in its home market and is indicative of the growing competition for Asian remake rights.
The announcement is the third so far this AFM (after Cinema Service's comedy Jail Breakers and Japanese horror title The Grudge which went to Sam Raimi's Ghost House) and at least two others are set to be revealed within days.
The remake business has been inhabited by intermediaries and producers such as Vertigo Entertainment, Amanda Klein and Michael Nash's Primal Pictures, Anant Singh's Distant Horizon, Roger Garcia's Modernfilms, Tetsuki Ijichi's Tidepoint Pictures and Mike Macari.
But studios are also going direct. The Miramax/Dimension team is understood to have only come across the picture this week and to have struck the deal after a marathon negotiating session.
Only minimal footage was available at the AFM and the film was pitched on a long synopsis. Teacher Mr Kim is the story of a teacher from the city who is landed with a job he does not want in the countryside. He attempts to close the tiny school down by being attentive to the needs of his pupils and finding them places in other colleges. But by doing so, his school becomes a roaring success.
The deal for Teacher Mr Kim is understood to be in six figures, but the final value will be determined by two sliding scales, first the budget of the English-language version, and second, the performance of the original film at he Korean box office. Jang Gyu-sung's film goes on release next month.
Negotiations were conducted by Dimension co-president Brad Weston, Miramax senior vice president Matt Brodlie, Miramax co-head of acquisitions and international operations Stewart Ford and senior vice president of business and legal affairs Eric Sherman and Cinema Service sales chief Jennifer Muhn and business affairs executive Josh Lee.
The majority of remake deals have been for films in the horror or thriller genres. Local comedies, which notoriously do not travel well in their original form are also increasingly being sold for remake by studios which set the films as broader comedy fare. So it is rare to see an art house film - particularly one as gruelling and dark as Oasis - getting the English-language treatment.
The tale of socially-backward ex-con who forms an unusual relationship with a woman with severe cerebral palsy, won director Lee Chang-dong the best director prize at last year's Venice festival.
Mosaic is understood to have attached Robert Mark Kamen, writer of Gladiator and A Walk In The Clouds, to deliver the screenplay.
One property going the other way is UK-Irish comedy Waking Ned Devine, which has now been set up for Chinese-language remake. The story involves an old man who dies before he can claim his lottery winnings, prompting the village to pretend he is still alive in order to collect.
The rights were bought by Hong Kong-based International Pacific Artists from UK-producers Glynnis Murray, Richard Holmes and writer/director Kirk Jones in a deal handled by Sue Rogers of talent agency ICM. The new film will be shot later this year in China and produced by Kearie Peak through Lotus Productions. A director has yet to be attached. Barber, Holmes and Jones will take executive producer credits.
* Cinema Service also closed sales deals at the AFM on its romance The Classic to Edko for China and Hong Kong and to Rentrak for Japan. In both territories, Cinema Service fielded multiple serious offers and in Hong Kong went with the outfit that handled director Kwak Jae-yong's My Sassy Girl (a title which was sold for remake last year).