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

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist July 6, 2011 at 12:57PM

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."
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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.

This article is related to: Films, Spike Lee, Oldboy (Remake)


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