U.K., Canada, Jamaica in co-production

U.K. production company Xingu Films, Canada’s Conquering Lion and Jamaican producer Justine Henzell are uniting to remake 1972 Jamaican classic, “The Harder They Come,” which starred reggae legend Jimmy Cliff as an aspiring musician lured into crime.

“Harder” will be produced by Henzell, Xingu’s Trudie Styler and Alex Francis and Lion’s Damon D’Oliveira and Clement Virgo in the three countries’ first co-production.

The original was written and directed by Henzell’s father Perry Henzell, who died in 2006.

D’Oliveira described the new version as a re-imagining that will move to contemporary reggae and reggae-influenced grooves.

Set in Jamaica and London, it’s being penned by former New Musical Express scribe Chris Salewicz, co-writer of “Third World Cop” (the most financially successful Caribbean pic) and books including “Bob Marley: The Untold Story.”

The producers expect to have a draft script ready for Cannes and principal photography is targeted for 2012.

“Next year is the 50th anniversary of Jamaica and the 40th anniversary of the original film, so the timing is perfect,” said D’Oliveira. ” ‘The Harder They Come’ was the first film to bring the real Jamaica to the world, and that spirit informs this new version.”

Henzell, director of Jamaica’s Calabash Literary Festival, said as the rights holder to the original she has been approached many times by companies with remake ideas, adding, “For the first time, I am confident we have a team that will simultaneously honor the original while creating a new narrative worthy of the legacy.”

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