RKO plans could result in ‘Bedlam’

The classic 1946 Boris Karloff chiller “Bedlam” is committed to hitting the screen again: RKO Pictures is in final negotiations to create an updated feature version with Martin Scorsese as supervising producer.

Scorsese, who has been active in seeking out RKO library property for revival , will be joined by John Sayles, who is set to write the screenplay adaptation.

Stu Robinson at Paradigm reps Sayles in the deal.

Indie producers Ruth Charney and Jon Gerrans will produce “Bedlam,” and RKO chairman/CEO Ted Hartley, who is pulling the project together, will exec produce.

New Zealand director Alison Mclean (“Crush”) will helm the picture, which in this version features a female protagonist whose attempt to expose the horrible conditions inside an insane asylum becomes personal when the sadistic warden puts her behind bars. She tries to escape and bring him to justice.

Though RKO toppers wouldn’t say if the story will be updated to the present, they feel a female lead lends a different flavor to the themes of power abuse and megalomania.

“The image of a woman manipulated by powerful men in her environment and righting a wrong has tremendous appeal to a lot of people today,” said RKO exec VP Mitch Blumberg. “That is what makes this classic RKO property suitable for a remake.”

“Bedlam,” which has no talent attached, is slated to shoot this summer in an undetermined locale for early 1995 distribution. Though no domestic distribber has been tapped for the project, several major parties are interested, with Miramax among the contenders.

RKO, which has the remake and sequel rights to approximately 700 of the 1,000 classic pix the company rolled out during its heyday, has 12 pictures in active development — six of which are remakes.

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