Fox preps remake of Gallic ‘Cafe’

Elephant Walk Entertainment and Lighthouse Prods. have teamed to develop and co-produce a remake of French filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz’s debut feature “Cafe au Lait” for 20th Century Fox.

Under Elephant Walk’s exclusive deal at Tom Rothman’s Fox film division, the studio picked up the remake rights to the pic on behalf of Lighthouse’s Michael Phillips and Juliana Maio — the husband-wife team that recently formed Phillips/Maio Prods. — and Elephant Walk producers Doug McHenry, George Jackson and Rob Lee.

Originally released by New Yorker Films in 1993, “Cafe au Lait” (it was originally titled “Metisse” for its French run) had success on the exclusive box office circuit. Kassovitz is best known as the helmer of “Hate” (La Haine).

Described by Elephant Walk partner Jackson as “a hip, sophisticated urban comedy,” the original film was set in Paris and focused on an interracial love triangle.

Jackson credits Fox production execs Lori Lakin and Hutch Parker with championing the film within the Fox fold.

“This is why Doug and I, and now Rob, got into the movie business: to make this type of movie, that at its core is about complicated, multiracial relationships without all the bull,” Jackson told Daily Variety.

Jackson said the producers don’t want to deviate from the original’s themes, but intend to take it in the direction of “a mainstream, commercial Hollywood movie, populated by mainstream movie stars.”

The producers hope to land a name writer on the project within the next two months.

Although the film gained notoriety when it was released in the U.S., it was not until Elephant Walk and Phillips/Maio teamed that Kassovitz and the film’s producer Christophe Rossignon gave the go-ahead for a remake. “Cafe au Lait” served as the French helmer’s introduction to Hollywood, which he followed with the hit “La Haine.” Kassovitz is not expected to have a creative role in the remake.

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