Polish action-comedy looks good for translation

EXCLUSIVE
Hollywood Pictures has inked a deal worth $600,000 for the remake rights to Polish helmer Juliusz Machulski’s action comedy “Kiler,” the studio confirmed Friday.

Hollywood Pics — with producers Barry Josephson, Barry Sonnenfeld and Dale Pollock — beat out 20th Century Fox and producer Art Linson, who had been hotly pursuing the project.

Sonnenfeld, who helmed “Men in Black” and “Get Shorty,” may direct, but no firm decision has been made. “It’s perfect Barry Sonnenfeld kind of material,” said David Vogel, prexy of Hollywood Pictures.

“Kiler,” which will be screened at the Palm Springs Film Festival this week, already has tallied 1.7 million admissions in Poland and is the highest-grossing film of all time there.

“Kiler,” whose title translates as hitman, is the story of a taxi driver who is mistaken for a contract killer and arrested by the police. After being rescued from prison by the mob, he becomes seduced by his new identity.

The new pic will be a co-production between the Disney-based Sonnenfeld/Josephson outfit and Open Door Entertainment, a new production company partnering “Set It Off” producer Pollock and Polish-American filmmaker Kai Schoenhals.

The project was discovered by Pollock and Schoenhals on a trip to Poland last year.

It was brought to the attention of the two Barrys by Sonnenfeld/Josephson VP of development and production Lisa Ellzey, who had lived in Poland and produced the indie pic “Poison Tasters” there.

The Barrys in turn took it to Vogel and Hollywood Pictures VP Gregg Hoffman, both of whom took an immediate liking to the film.

Machulski co-wrote and directed the original, and produced it through his Zebra Films. He will be attached as an exec producer on the remake.

His other feature credits include “Vabanque 1,” “Vabanque 2″ and “Sex Mission,” all of which were solid grossers in Poland before “Kiler.”

Sources said Machulski opted for Sonnenfeld/Josephson and Pollock/Schoenhals because he was allowed creative input on the pic. Fox wanted to snag the rights outright.

“It’s a terrific concept that will be easy to reinvent for American audiences,” Josephson said.

Pollock added: “It’s an action comedy, a mainstream idea that we believe will translate well to the U.S. We’re very excited to be in business with both of the Barrys.”

Machulski’s deal was brokered by agents Jordan Bayer and Matt Leipzig of Original Artists.

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