It appears that the popular horror franchise The Grudge may have picked up another curse, as one of the original producers has filed a lawsuit against the upcoming US remake. The rebooted version of the 2002 Japanese cult film, Ju-On: The Grudge, is currently being directed by Nicolas Pesce with an all-star cast and set for a 2019 release. While the original Japanese version of Ju-On franchise consists of nine feature films that culminated in the recent crossover Sadako vs. Kayako, which saw the female antagonist from the Ring series turn up for a brawl, most US horror fans are familiar with the series of films that that started in 2004.
The first movie simply titled The Grudge - starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Bill Pullman - and it retold the origin of the supernatural curse and the vengeful ghosts for a Western audience. Since it grossed over $187 million worldwide against a production budget of only $10 million, it naturally received two sequels - one in 2006 and another in 2009, continuing some of the plot-threads laid out in the first film. Given Hollywood's current love for reinventing once-successful franchises, the news of a forthcoming reboot wasn't entirely unexpected. With the talented Indie genre filmmaker Pesce directing, and with the continued involvement of Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures, fans are expecting something special from this remake of a remake.
However, prolific Japanese producer/writer Taka Ichise has raised many eyebrows by officially filing a breach of contract suit with the Los Angeles Superior Court on July 30. Deadline reports that he has drawn up the complaint against Good Universe, alleging that the company is refusing to allow him credit as a producer. Good Universe is a spinoff company from Lionsgate and is producing the remake alongside Ghost House and Stage 6. In the claim, Ichise states the company acquired the rights for another entry in the franchise on the express condition that he be given the right to produce the new movie and be paid an agreed-upon producer fee. As such, he is seeking compensation and recognition for alleged damages.
It's not entirely obvious as to what went wrong. Ichise has acted as a producer on over 70 productions, including the original Japanese Ju-On film and the sequels, and was also a producer on the previous US Grudge films. He even seems to be still appearing on many film-listing sites as a producer on this remake, although that doesn't seem to be the case, legally. Realistically, this should be something that could be resolved rather quickly, with either compensation or a swift out-of-court decision. But, in a worst case scenario, a court trial could feasibly impact the film's production.
Hopefully, it will never come to that. The movie contains an excellent cast consisting of actors such as Betty Gilpin, John Cho, Lin Shaye, Andrea Riseborough, and William Sadler. The terrifying apparition of the croaky Kayako Saeki still has the scope to provide plenty of scares, especially with Pesce at the helm. Some rumors have suggested that the title has been narrowed down to just the one-worded Grudge. At any rate, fans of the franchise are presumably hoping that this legal complication won't impact the intended release of the film in 2019.