Industry changes approach as attitudes evolve

TOKYO — Hollywood is changing its approach to Asian remake deals, a panel of execs told industryites at a packed Tokyo Film Festival seminar on Tuesday.

“U.S. studios are now on the ground in all European and Asian countries and I predict — especially in Japan — that they will be doing more local language remakes themselves,” said Brad Krevoy, chairman and CEO of Motion Picture Corp. of America.

“Studios will be making more stuff from their own libraries in local languages,” said Fox Atomic VP Zak Kadison, whose previous credits at Gold Circle Films include a remake of Korean smash hit “My Sassy Girl.”

Kadison said studios’ attitudes to remakes have evolved over five years. After helmer Hideo Nakata’s horror hit “Ringu” was remade by Gore Verbinski into “The Ring,” Hollywood spent a lot of money acquiring remake rights to pics, but then found that nobody wanted to write or produce them, Kadison said. Studios are now much more reticent about acquiring material for a English-language remake that is not packaged.

Many studios — including Disney, Par and Universal — have said they intend to make more films locally. Twentieth Century Fox recently unveiled producer-distrib Fox Star Studios that combines the weight of its Asian satcaster and its Fox Intl. releasing operations. It will produce separate slates of movies in India, Greater China and other Southeast Asian countries.

Speakers drew attention to the differences between Asian and Hollywood styles of doing business.

“You may find a director is held in very high esteem in Asia, while in Hollywood the emphasis is more on business and contracts,” said Tim Kwok, principal of L.A. management company Convergence Entertainment. For a remake deal to work well “you need to find a Hollywood executive who is sympathetic,” he added.

Asian scripts tend to be written and produced much more quickly than in Hollywood where the development process can frustrate Asian partners, he said.

Kadison said differences in what genres work in which countries may limit the number of films picked up for remake.

Melodramas are a staple of the Japanese films industry.

Krevoy, developing “Rainbow Bridge” as a DreamWorks remake of Japanese hit “Yomigaeri,” believed that was an advantage. “The best projects that make you cry are here (in Asia),” he said.

A bigger potential obstacle is Japanese contract law. “In the U.S. chain of title is very detailed. In Japan with equivalent documents companies may need help. For older documents it can be impossible,” he said.

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