Back in August we reported on the fact that prolific film actor/editor/producer/director, Larry Fessenden, was attached to direct the upcoming inevitable remake of Juan Antonio Bayona's excellent Spanish-language horror film, The Orphanage (or "El orfanato" to use its Spanish name). Fessenden had reportedly co-written the script with the ultra-busy Guillermo del Toro (who produced the original and is performing the same duties for the remake), and was tapped to bring the creepy tale to English-speaking audiences who may not have seen (or maybe not even have heard of) the original.
However, just a few short months later the guys over at JoBlo have learned exclusively from Fessenden himself that he most likely won't be directing The Orphanage remake. On the set of his upcoming project, the post-apocalyptic vampire film Stake Land (Fessenden is producing), he told Joblo the following:
"THE ORPHANAGE was two years of waiting. Working on the script with Guillermo was a very exciting experience, but then I got into a casting miasma and that's where the thing is; I think they're gonna do it another way, actually. So I think I'm out of it. Hopefully they'll still use my script, but I'm not sure I'm directing it anymore. That's Hollywood for ya."
It doesn't sound absolute 100% concrete Fessenden is out, but chances are if he was still set to be at the helm he would know for definite and wouldn't be sounding so unsure. I reckon, what with del Toro still on-board to produce, that they'll use the script the two of them worked on together. Having said that, if another director gets brought on-board and has some new ideas of where to take the remake, del Toro may want to take his and Fessenden's co-written script and rewrite it with the new director by his side. It's too early to tell, but that's certainly a possibility, I think.
Fessenden is a busy man (not quite as busy as del Toro, but I don't think ANYONE is), with three films he's producing (Bitter Feast, Stake Land and Hypothermia) that follow a plethora of films already on his resume. I'm not familiar with Fessenden's work, so I can't really say if he was a good choice for Orphanage remake, but it certainly sounds like he was passionate about it. It's just one of those cases where differences in opinion over what a film should be has caused the departure of one of the key players. As Fessenden says - that's Hollywood for ya'.
Side note: it's very strange that Fessenden is apparently off the project as word is del Toro handpicked him as a sort of protégé for being a, "filmmaker who [understands] the conventions of the horror genre and could execute a movie that would be as scary and disturbing as the original but in an American context.” You'd think if del Toro likes him that much that they'd try and work around any problems to keep Fessenden on-board as director. Strange...
Larry Fessenden with Guillermo del Toro
As for who should direct The Orphanage now, I personally think someone like Alfonso Cauron (Children of Men) or Frank Darabont should be given a shot at it. Cuaron, just because I think he really knows how to bring out the humanity in his films (his turn at directing Harry Potter 3 resulted in the most rewarding film of the franchise, IMO) and I don't think you can really go wrong with Darabont, the man responsible for The Shawshank Redemption (one of the best films ever, IMHO) and last year's The Mist (a film I liked a lot more on second viewing). Those are just a couple of directors I can think of that I'd like to see at the helm of this.
Having said that, I'd just like to make it clear that I am not happy about Hollywood taking yet another great foreign language film and remaking it into a most likely dumbed-down version just because you have to read subtitles to watch the original (either that or a badly dubbed version). I'm holding on for dear life to the fact that del Toro - producer of the original - is back producing the remake and in that way it will work out well. But I doubt they'll get anywhere close to the original in terms of quality. I could be wrong, but that's just my thought on the matter at this point in time.
As far as we know, a lead actress to play the adoptive mother with a troubled son is still being looked for by New Line. Perhaps the actresses the studio has on the shortlist was one of the contributing factors in Fessenden departing the project. Who knows.
What do you think of Larry Fessenden not directing The Orphanage remake anymore? Who would you like to see direct instead?
No release date has been set for The Orphanage as of yet. We'll keep you posted.