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Majors snap up Korean pix

Producer lauds improved quality of local films

Hollywood has fallen in love with Korean movies. Last year, Miramax bought remake rights to director Cho Jin-kya’s local blockbuster “My Wife Is a Gangster,” and now, two additional Korean pics have sold to Hollywood majors for remakes.

MGM has paid low-six figures for “Hi, Dharma,” a comedy about the adventures of a group of gangsters fleeing the police who take refuge in a monastery, where the native monks muster to purge the gangsters from their religious home.

The original pic, directed by Kwan Park, was being sold at the American Film Market by Cineclick Asia.

“Dharma” was one of the five top-grossing films in South Korea last year, taking in $20.4 million.

Project was brought into the studio by MGM VP of production Eric Paquette, who will oversee pic with MGM production prexy Michael Nathanson. Deal was negotiated by MGM with Cineclick Asia’s managing director Suh Young Joo.

The third Korean film to close a remake deal is Cinema Service’s “My Sassy Girl,” which sold to DreamWorks for an undisclosed sum.

Roy Lee, the Vertigo producer who has been instrumental in negotiating the remake deals, indicates that the current interest in Korean films was due to their improved quality.

Lee, who has a first-look deal with Miramax, says two additional productions were in the works. David Veloz (scripter of “Behind Enemy Lines”) is pitching Cinema Service’s “Tell Me Something,” and Mark Klein (Serendipity) is pitching a remake of “El Mare,” also by Cinema Service.

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