(All this month we'll be bringing back some of our favorite Halloween-themed posts, as well as digging up some brand new stuff from beyond the grave. Enjoy!)
By: Peter Martin
"The answer is not in the avoidance of remakes. The plain fact is that remakes of very good original films sometimes fail because they have not been remade by people as talented as those who made the first versions." -- David O. Selznick, 1956.
The famed producer of Gone With the Wind and Rebecca was on a downward slide when he wrote the above in a memo to the president of 20th Century Fox. Selznick spent much of the 1950s repackaging and selling his earlier productions to studios, pocketing tidy fees for his efforts. The modern-day equivalent is Roy Lee. As explained in a profile in The New Yorker: "What Lee does for a living sounds simple enough, but no one in Hollywood had thought of it before. He watches videos of every Asian movie ever made, picks the biggest hits, and then, on behalf of their Asian distributors, sells the 'remake rights' of those films to studios here, so that they can be turned into big-budget American spectacles."
That article was published in June 2003, on the heels of the financial success of The Ring in the fall of 2002 but before the coming horror onslaught that included The Grudge, The Grudge 2, Dark Water and The Ring Two (all involving Lee), plus Pulse and others. Lee quickly expanded into other countries and other genres, but the most appealing remake target for Hollywood in general remains Asian horror. This year has seen the release of One Missed Call (Japan), The Eye (Hong Kong/Thailand), and Shutter (Thailand); awaiting release are The Uninvited (AKA A Tale of Two Sisters, South Korea), and The Echo (the Philippines), with Alone (Thailand), The Ring 3 and The Grudge 3 all listed in various stages of production on Lee's upcoming slate.