Fox backs Na Hong-jin’s ‘Murderer’

Korean mini-major Showbox on board project

LONDON — Fox Intl. Prods. will co-finance Korean helmer Na Hong-jin’s feature “The Murderer” with Korean mini-major Showbox.

It’s the first time Fox has invested in a Korean pic and the first time a U.S. major has invested in a Korean project at script stage.

Project, which won an award at the 2009 Hong Kong Asian Film Financing Forum, is the story of a man living on the border of China, North Korea and Russia who accepts an assignment to assassinate someone in South Korea to pay off his debts. He soon realizes, however, that he has been set up.

Popcorn Film is producing with Korean talent agency Star M Well-Made, Showbox and Fox.

Gaumont has pre-bought “The Murderer” for France.

Fox’s interest in “The Murderer” goes back to May 2008, when international production prexy Sanford Panitch read Na’s treatment at the Cannes Film Festival. The Korean helmer emerged as one of his country’s hottest filmmakers after his debut feature, “The Chaser,” gained international kudos.

Fox wants to cement its relationship with Showbox, with which it inked a letter of intent in April 2007 to invest in and distribute Korean productions.

The studio has reserved the right to participate in any English-language remake of “The Murderer,” with Na attached to direct and Popcorn Film to produce.

Fox launched its international production division in May 2008 under Panitch, a former exec VP of production at Fox and prexy of filmed entertainment at Fox partner New Regency.

The unit has a slate of local-language projects that stretch from Europe to Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

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