One of the forces behind always-controversial filmmaker Spike Lee's Americanized remake of Oldboy is producer Roy Lee: the man partly responsible for the onslaught of Holllywood reworkings of famous Japanese horror titles (see: The Ring, The Grudge, Dark Water, The Eye, Shutter, etc.) that have hit theaters over the past decade.
Roy Lee sat down with several movie news bloggers and journalists during a recent set visit to the currently-shooting thriller, 7500, and offered updates on some of his upcoming projects - including, information about the production timeline and ending of (Spike) Lee's Oldboy.
Oldboy is the next project on Lee's to-do list and the producer says that pre-production is expected to get going by January 2012, with principal photography set to commence two months later. He also clarified that the project will not be based in any form on an early script draft penned by the scribes behind director Justin Lin's Better Luck Tomorrow; rather, it is being solely scripted by Mark Protosevich (The Cell, I Am Legend, Thor).
Here is how the producer described the narrative foundation of the new Oldboy:
"It’s very similar [to Chan-wook Park's film], but we’ve added new elements. 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."
Those comments gel with previous reports about Protosevich's screenplay for Oldboy, which is reportedly taking the same "remake" approach as the Roy Lee-produced The Departed did with its Asian cinematic predecessor (ie. Infernal Affairs).
Similar to how Martin Scorsese imbued The Departed with his own artistic spin and style, (Roy) Lee also says that (Spike) Lee intends to offer a different visual interpretation of the Oldboy story - including, a reworking of the famous single-shot hallway fight scene in Park's adaptation that will apparently be done "in a way that we've never seen done in an action movie." That sounds like an enticing promise, given the creative tendencies of the project's director (case in point: check out the unorthodox dolly shot in this NSFW clip from Spike Lee's Inside Man).
However, if there's one element of Park's Oldboy that many fans have long (adamantly) insisted will be either weaker or just absent from its Hollywood reworking, it is the (violently) dark and disturbing plot-twist-filled third act. However, Roy Lee says that the latter will feature anything but a watered-down and "happily-ever-after" version of that infamous conclusion.
To quote the producer directly:
"The ending [to the new 'Oldboy'] will be something that the audiences will all be…especially the fans of the original will be very happy with. In fact, some may consider it to be a bit darker."
It is understandable that so many fans of Park's Oldboy movie have been either tetchy or flat-out hostile towards the idea of the film being given a Hollywood-style makeover. Not to mention, a lot of people don't distinguish between Lee's polarizing views on touchy social issues (especially racism) and his technical finesse as a filmmaker; hence, some of the angry reactions towards his being connected with this new project.
That said: this new Oldboy certainly has potential and looks to feature a great cast that is headed by Josh Brolin, with Colin Firth being the latest rumored candidate to star as the film's villain. So, as far Americanized remakes of cult foreign-language films go, this could not only be one of the better ones, but also an excellent work on its own terms.
We will continue to keep you posted on the status of Oldboy as more information is released.
Source: Roy Lee (via Collider)
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