Columbia taps Chris Murphy to write script

Columbia Pictures is back in the dojo with a new version of the 1984 hit “The Karate Kid,” which has been refashioned as a star vehicle for Jaden Smith.

The film will be produced by Jerry Weintraub (who launched the original franchise) and Overbrook Entertainment’s James Lassiter, Will Smith and Ken Stovitz. Will Smith, who is the 10-year-old actor’s father, co-starred alongside Jaden in his feature debut, “The Pursuit of Happyness,” which Overbrook and Escape Artists produced for Columbia.

The script is being written by Chris Murphy, and the film will shoot next year in Beijing and other cities. While the new film will be set in that exotic locale, it will borrow elements of the original plot, wherein a bullied youth learns to stand up for himself with the help of an eccentric mentor.

China Film Group Corp. will co-produce in China.

The younger Smith, who next stars in “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” is a martial arts practitioner.

Columbia presidents Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach said they had been trying to find a way to bring back the series, which began with three films that featured Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. A subsequent film launched the career of Hilary Swank.

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