Turteltaub and Hanks to ‘Dance’

Miramax, BVI courting remake

Two-time Oscar-winner Tom Hanks and director Jon Turteltaub (“Phenomenon”) are looking to put the English-language remake of “Shall We Dance?” on their dance cards, though their pairing would be more than a year away.

If the deal comes together as planned, Miramax Films, which distributed the original Japanese film and has been developing the remake, is likely to handle domestic distribution, and its corporate sibling, Buena Vista Intl., would take foreign. The two Disney-owned entities are still working out these details, however.

Miramax released the original “Shall We Dance?” in 1997, and the pic went on to set a U.S. box office record for a Japanese film, with a $10 million take.

Unofficially committed

While there currently is no deal in place for Hanks, according to sources close to the actor and others involved with the project, the “Saving Private Ryan” star has unofficially committed to “Dance”; and the film is now being developed for him.

Miramax confirmed that the project is being developed for Hanks, and insiders indicated that the company intends to develop such a stellar script that the actor would be enticed to take less than his current asking price, which is in the $20 million neighborhood. It’s assumed that any reduction would not be as drastic as the scale rate Sylvester Stallone took for Miramax’s “Cop Land.”

And while a formal deal has not been finalized, Turteltaub has been attached to direct the remake for nearly two years, and he personally approached Hanks to do the film. Turteltaub will also produce the film.

Dad’s in, out

Turteltaub’s father, Saul, was originally hired to pen the adaptation of Masayuki Suo’s hit, but it’s understood that another writer now is being sought for the project.

The blithe romantic comedy follows a staid working man who takes a ballroom dancing class in an attempt to impress a beautiful young dance teacher. In the end, the dancing re-energizes the student and injects new verve into his marriage.

Originally, Buena Vista Home Entertainment president Michael O. Johnson unearthed the pic as part of an overall distribution deal that he brokered with Tokum Shoten Publishing Co., under which Disney handles that company’s titles in North America and Europe.

Hit at Cannes

But when “Dance” screened at Cannes in 1996, Miramax acquisition execs decided that it had theatrical potential. Miramax subsequently acquired all rights, including remake rights, to the comedy.

If Miramax manages to wrap up a deal with Hanks for the role, it will be a continuation of the company’s strategy of attracting A-list Hollywood talent to many of its higher-profile projects, as evidenced by Robin Williams in “Good Will Hunting,” Stallone in “Cop Land” and Meryl Streep in the upcoming “50 Violins.”

Crowded sked

But before he can put on his dancing shoes, Hanks is slated to star in “The Castaway,” under Robert Zemeckis for Fox. “Castaway” — which tells the story one man’s struggles while stranded on a desert island — is slated to begin production early next year. Hanks is then expected to play the title role in “Dino,” Martin Scorsese’s biopic of crooner Dean Martin for Warner Bros. before shedding 40 pounds and returning to complete “Castaway.”

Hanks, who is repped by CAA, recently completed a starring role in Frank Darabont’s “The Green Mile” for Castle Rock/Warner Bros. He next can be seen reteaming with Meg Ryan in Warner’s December release, “You’ve Got Mail,” directed by Nora Ephron.

“Dance” would mark the first pairing of Hanks and Turteltaub, who most recently helmed Touchstone Pictures’ “Instinct,” a 1999 Touchstone release starring Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr. Turteltaub is represented by Endeavor.

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