Helmers set sights on U.S. mainstream

The ambitions of South Korean helmers know no boundaries: The country’s two best known, Bong Joon-ho and Park Chan-wook, are teaming to attack the U.S. mainstream and work in the English language.

Bong, who recently helmed “The Host,” which became the biggest-grossing film of all time in Korea with a B.O. exceeding $80 million, will next direct “La Transperceneige.” Park, who helmed “Oldboy” and “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance,” will produce.

Project is an adaptation of a French-language graphic novel by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette. With shades of Noah’s Ark, story is set on a train that is the last refuge for human civilization on the run from a devastating ice age. Train is a microcosm of human society with its different classes of passenger mirroring different political and social strata.

Reteaming Park with “Lady Vengeance” production shingle Moho Film, pic is expected to boast one of the largest-ever budgets for a Korean movie, with significant coin coming from one of the Korea’s vertically integrated majors. Associate producer June Lee will launch the f/x-heavy project to buyers at the American Film Market this week.

Park told Daily Variety that he and Lee will be meeting with Hollywood studios and U.S.-based talent agents to set up distribution deals and firm up an English-language screenwriter. Casting is already under way, with lensing tentatively set for next year. Due to the CGI quotient, delivery is skedded two years out.

Bong previously worked with the Orphanage and Weta Digital for creature effects and maquette of “The Host.”

“The story we are making justifies our move into the English language,” said Park.

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