Russian writers working on 'Man on Fire,' 'Girl'

Fox Intl. Prods. will make local-language films based on library titles “Man on Fire” and “Working Girl” for the Russian theatrical marketplace.

The studio is separately working on a version of “Working Girl” for Japan with producer Taka Ichise, who produced the original versions of the films that were re-made into the Hollywood hit films “The Grudge” and “The Ring.”

The deals to exploit Fox’s Hollywood hits for international remakes marks a new direction for FIP under president Sanford Panitch, who earlier this week made a deal to turn the Fox-owned screenplay “King’s Ransom” into a Chinese-language film through Fox Star that will be produced by Lion Rock’s John Woo and Terence Chang, and directed by Patrick Leung.

The move is designed to create new homegrown produce to bolster FIP’s already thriving Russian distribution pipeline, which has released the country’s four highest-grossing titles in “Irony of Fate,” “Nightwatch,” “Daywatch” and “The Admiral.” The move also comes after FIP watched “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” open No. 1 in nearly every world territory, but was bested in Korea by Park Chan-Wook’s “Thirst,” evidence of the strength that local-language films have on their own turf. In Japan, for instance, 60% of the $2 billion in annual theatrical receipts go to films made in their home country.

The remakes will also be significantly less expensive than their Hollywood counterparts, with both the Russian versions of “Man on Fire” and “Working Girl” expected to carry budgets no higher than $4 million, with the expectation they don’t have to perform beyond their own borders.

Both Russian remakes will be supervised by Alexander Atanessian, who produced the 2006 Russian film “Bastards.” Each film will be considered more of a re-imagining than a remake, with concepts to be tailored by Russian writers. Each film will likely be re-titled.

Atanessian will write the screenplay for “Man on Fire,” and though the film’s original scribe Brian Helgeland will come aboard as executive producer, Atanessian will go back to the A.J. Quinnell novel and draft the Russian-set story of a bodyguard who, after losing the young girl he is protecting to kidnappers, sets out to destroy everyone involved in the plot. Denzel Washington starred in the 2004 Tony Scott-directed original.

“Working Girl” will be scripted by Edward Ugrik.

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