Sorry, Asian film fans, following the J-horror fad a short while ago, Hollywood is once again coming hard for your favorites. Spike Lee's take on "Oldboy" will roll in front of cameras next year, "Akira" is now casting up and let's not forget that pretty much every Akira Kurosawa movie is now up for a remake. But these won't be carbon copies. Certainly, they will be Hollywood-ized to a certain degree (ie. New Manhattan subbing in for Neo Toyko), but as producer Roy Lee tells it, "Oldboy" may bring something new to fans who think they know what's coming, while "Battle Royale" may be spared a studio makeover.
While there has been much chatter about how Spike Lee will deal with the grimier elements of "Oldboy," particularly as they deal with the ending, it has been said screenwriter Mark Protosevich has been using both the movie and the manga (which notably does not contain the twist) in writing the movie. So who knows how the narrative will shake out. But according to producer Roy Lee, who sat down with folks including Collider, there will be some surprises in store.
"It’s very similar [to the original movie], but we’ve added new elements," Lee said. "Or, Mark Protosevich has come up with new elements to it that will throw off the audience who have seen the original movie because there are new characters and new situations that present themselves in a way that changes the story but eventually go in the same direction."
And as for the ending? While he dodged the question a bit as to whether it will retain the queasy reveal, he did boldly promise, "The ending will be something that...especially the fans of the original will be very happy with. In fact, some may consider it to be a bit darker."
And oh yeah, that now classic hallway fight sequence? It's still there, though slightly tweaked, but will be a central moment. "There’s a sort of different interpretation of that hallway scene that is going to hopefully be Spike’s signature moment in the movie that we want to show in a way that we’ve never seen done in an action movie," Lee says. He's setting up a whole world of expectation here so let's hope they can deliver.
But not every remake is moving foward. Back in 2006, New Line announced they would be taking on a remake of the bloody, hyper violent "Battle Royale." The news seemed ludicruous at the time -- it was exactly the kind of bloody, outrageous movie that could only come from the edges of Japanese cinema. But despite promises of a hard-R rating, fanboys made their complaints loud and clear. Well, they can thank another franchise for ensuring it won't hit the big screen anytime soon.
According to Lee, the upcoming "The Hunger Games" -- which also deals with a dystopian future where young people have to fight for their survival in a brutal winner takes all battle -- has taken the heat off "Battle Royale" because it deals with the same subject matter (though tween-ified). " 'Hunger Games' definitely took a lot of wind out of the sails because it definitely has a very similar storyline and so I’m not actually sure if any studio…I’m not even sure if before 'Hunger Games' any studio would have been able to take the creative risks you need to make the movie right and now so would be even harder," Lee explains. We'll see about that as Hollywood has shown, they are not opposed to copying ideas if it's something the public latches onto. And if someone can pitch an "adult" verision of "Hunger Games," we could see "Battle Royale" kicking back to life.
So all this to say, yes, these remakes are still coming. Can Spike Lee bring his distinct voice to "Oldboy"? Will "Battle Royale" sit forever on the backburner? Never say never.