By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com May 14, 2011 at 3:00AM
You might not have seen "Red Riding," the trilogy of British crime films that hit theaters at the start of last year. The films only received the briefest of releases, with a simultaneous video-on-demand release, although they attracted millions of viewers when they aired in the U.K. in January 2009. If you didn't, you should: the three films -- "In the Year of Our Lord 1974," "In the Year of Our Lord 1980" and "In the Year of Our Lord 1983," directed by Julian Jarrold, James Marsh and Anand Tucker, respectively -- were among the best crime movies of recent years, with an outstanding cast including Andrew Garfield, Rebecca Hall, Sean Bean, Paddy Considine, Maxine Peake, Mark Addy, David Morrissey, Eddie Marsan, Warren Clarke, Peter Mullan and many, many others.
It was a fairly staggering achievement, so it was with a heavy heart that we received the news around the time of the film's U.S. release that Ridley Scott was planning an Americanized version of the original novels by "The Damned United" writer David Peace, and was working with his "American Gangster" scribe Steve Zaillian on a script. Word's been quiet ever since, so we'd assumed that the project had gone the way of umpteen other aborted Scott projects, but The Hollywood Reporter broke the news last night that Jamie Vanderbilt has been hired by Scott and Sony to take another crack at the script.
Vanderbilt's something of a favorite at Sony at the moment: his script for "The Amazing Spider-Man" inspired the studio to reboot the franchise entirely and he's already been hired to write the sequel, as well as doing a polish on their other big Summer 2012 hope, "Total Recall." More importantly, he was behind the script for David Fincher's "Zodiac," not only one of the seminal serial killer movies, but a textbook example of how to successfully adapt sprawling, difficult material, so he's a pretty smart hire for the project.
At the same time, we find the whole idea entirely redundant. Not only were the original films terrific, but they were also firmly tied to their setting -- few films have ever gotten to the dark heart of the North of England so successfully -- and to historical events, with the second film being tied to the real-life serial killer The Yorkshire Ripper. Keeping the original setting, like Sony's upcoming "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," would be one thing, even if it would be fairly pointless. But moving the film to the States just seems silly. With Scott working on "Prometheus" until next summer, this won't get moving until at least 2012, and that's only if it manages to jump to the top of his queue.