Rogue to release remake of '80s horror pic

Looking to scare up another horror remake hit, Platinum Dunes has made a deal with Focus Features to redo 1986 pic “The Hitcher.” The film will be released through Focus’ genre label, Rogue Pictures.

Deal marks the third remake for Platinum Dunes since it was formed by Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller to hatch low-cost genre fare. Shingle began with “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and continued with “The Amityville Horror,” both of which outgrossed their negative costs in their opening weekends. “Amityville Horror,” which cost $19 million, finished its opening frame at $23.3 million.

Originally directed by Robert Harmon, “The Hitcher” starred C. Thomas Howell as an ordinary teen who picks up the hitchhiker from hell, a role originated by Rutger Hauer. The serial killer torments the youth by implicating him in each of his crimes. Bay said saga fits the company template in that its premise offers a scare potential just as high with the current crop of teen moviegoers as it was when the original opened.

“Someone mentioned the title and I said, ‘That’s the one we should do,’ ” Bay said. “I loved it as a kid, and we can add some cool twists and turn it into a rocking film.” One possibility, he suggested, is to make the protagonist female.

Bay said they will quickly ink a writer. Bay, Form and Fuller are down to three finalists for the directing job on a “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” prequel at New Line that will trace Leatherface’s formative years.

Focus co-president David Linde will oversee “The Hitcher” for Rogue. He first worked with Platinum Dunes when Focus predecessor Good Machine Intl. distributed “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” overseas. The film, which cost $9 million, grossed north of $100 million worldwide.

Formed 13 months ago, Rogue will release its first films this summer: the Jet Li/Morgan Freeman action film “Unleashed” and the fright film “Cry Wolf.” The distrib is developing two other projects with Platinum Dunes, “The Horseman” and “The Surrogate.”

Platinum Dunes signed a whopping first-look deal with Bob and Harvey Weinstein at Dimension Films right after the success of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and Bay said his long-term allegiance will remain with the brothers, who are setting up a new company.

“They haven’t been buying, but when they start again, we’ll continue,” Bay said.

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