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Has Spike Lee Been Released From Director's Jail...For The 'Oldboy' Remake?

by Oliver Lyttelton
July 6, 2011 12:57 PM
8 Comments
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All in all, Spike Lee is one of our favorite working filmmakers, and really, how could the man behind "She's Gotta Have It," "Do The Right Thing," "Malcolm X" and "25th Hour" not be? But he's also extremely inconsistent, and the critical and commercial failure of his last picture, the WW2 drama "Miracle At St. Anna," have made things trickier for the director: over the weekend, he told The Hollywood Reporter that he hasn't been able to get financing for any of his films in three years, even a sequel to his biggest hit, the starry thriller "Inside Man."

That film could never get the green-light, and neither could biopics of Jackie Robinson & James Brown and the self-penned ensemble drama "Brooklyn Loves MJ," while even replacing Martin Campbell on the thriller "Nagasaki Deadline," a project that seemed like a straight-up paycheck gig, came to nothing, leaving the director to stick to TV and documentary work. But an interesting rumor emerged overnight, one that might see Lee return to the big screen, for a project that many films fans have been dreading for some time; the long-gestating remake of Park Chan-Wook's modern Korean classic "Oldboy."

Ever since that movie, a brutal revenge story about a man imprisoned for decades by a mysterious stranger, was released back in 2003, talk of an Americanization has circulated, and 2008 saw Will Smith and Steven Spielberg, an actor/director pair as ill-suited to the project as possible, attach themselves to the film. They departed not long after when Mandate and DreamWorks fell out, but late last year, it was reported that writer Mark Protosevich ("I Am Legend") had turned in a draft that had executives jumping for joy, and that Spielberg had been approached again, along with Matthew Vaughn and Danny Boyle.

It seems that those three have all turned the film down, as Twitch, who've been on a pretty hot run with the scoops of late, report that Lee is now in talks to helm the remake, which would mark his first directorial feature since "Miracle At St. Anna." If it works out, Lee would certainly mark a better choice for the material than Spielberg, even if it still doesn't quite seem like the right choice. But then, our ideal pick for director would be, well, no one, and if it gets Lee back to work, and hopefully gives him the cachet to get something he really wants to make going, than we suppose it at least gives the remake some purpose.

Of course, none of this is confirmed yet, and Drew McWeeny says on Twitter that he believes that there are legal issues over the rights to the film that may tie things up. Only time will tell if Lee's appointment will finally push one of the less necessary remakes around forward, at long last.

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More: Films, Spike Lee, Oldboy (Remake)

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8 Comments

  • Snake | August 22, 2011 10:03 AMReply

    Fair to say Spike is inconsistent. Fair to say Spike's movies don't always rack up pile of dough.
    But there may be more at work and I think Spike is held to a different standard.

    How much money has M Night Shyamalan lost for movie companies?
    Has Michael Bay ever made a watchable movie?
    When did Robert Rodriguez last make a movie worth a damn.
    Will Smith. Bankable? Sure. But shouldn't someone with the power to do so say, "Stop it! No, no, no.
    Finish writing the movie before you start shooting it, Will. And keep your damn kids at home please."

    Spike may not be JJ Abrams but he's not Tom Green either.

  • Mr Anonymous | July 7, 2011 3:20 AMReply

    I can't believe Spike Lee can't get any movies made!

    This is Spike Lee for fucks sake! Someone give him some money! A travesty!

    As for OldBoy remake, it's gotta be Idris. No way is Denzel getting involved with any of that nasty shit that featured in the original. He'll make sure to have that written out.

  • The Oldest Boy | July 6, 2011 10:23 AMReply

    Idris for the lead, make it for $20 million max, happy days.

  • The Oldest Boy | July 6, 2011 10:23 AMReply

    Idris for the lead, make it for $20 million max, happy days.

  • Gabe Toro | July 6, 2011 9:35 AMReply

    Dear Hollywood,

    Do this.

  • Rufus | July 6, 2011 6:57 AMReply

    Cachet, not cache. Unless there's a stored collection of items that will help Spike get another movie made.

  • K West | July 6, 2011 4:31 AMReply

    Denzel will probably be the lead. It's a Spike Lee join. Denzel and Spike are always good together anyway.

    Spike does need to suck it up and do the one for them one for me thing with the studios. Or maybe two or three for them and one for me in the studios. Inside Man showed he can direct commercial mainstream fair and still keep his unique style and vision.

  • KT | July 6, 2011 1:50 AMReply

    Idris Elba for the lead!

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