Once largely dominated by U.S. studios, the remakes business has expanded in the past few years, attracting a fresh breed of industryites looking to explore diverse international grounds.
“Now that the studios hardly greenlight any movies that aren’t franchise-based or sequels, we’re seeing more and more independent producers jumping into remakes,” says Cecile Gaget, international sales chief at Gaumont, who’s been selling re-do rights on a number of films, notably Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano’s comedy blockbuster “The Intouchables” and Fred Cavaye’s thriller “Point Blank,” dealing with such outfits as the Weinstein Co., which is remaking “Intouchables” for the U.S.
Adds Gaget, “Even if the remakes get stuck in development, the option itself can bring substantial coin; and when the film does get made, we can negotiate an upfront fee or a B.O. bonus.”
Remakes increasingly stem for diverse material. “At the end of the day, producers and filmmakers look for compelling, original stories, no matter whether they come from a graphic novel, a TV series, a book, a documentary, a foreign film or an article,” says Patrick Jucaud at communication agency Basic Lead, which in 2010 launched the Remakes Market, an L.A.-set bazaar presenting an eclectic mix of 76 properties from around the world.
For the first time, the Remakes Market will showcase nonfiction titles with makeover potential. “There’s a growing number of documentaries getting fictional Hollywood redos,” Jucaud points out.
The French-American exec says Israeli docus were particularly interesting, and cited Nir Toib’s “Tammuz,” a doc turning on a group of Israeli pilots who embarked on a suicide mission to bomb an Iraqi nuclear reactor; and Rachel Leah Jones’ Sundance-preeming “Gypsy Davy,” turning on the life of Leah Jones’ father, an Alabama native who became a flamenco guitarist and married five times.
“Some of these documentaries tell unbelievable stories and feature great characters, and behind each of them you’ll find passionate filmmakers who’ve spent years researching (the subjects),” Jucand says.
In the U.S., San Francisco-based Roco Prods. has been at the forefront of the trend, teaming with Chris Columbus’ 1492 Pictures to adapt docus into narrative dramas. The first title to be developed jointly by the two shingles is Yoav Potash’s 2011 Sundance preeming “Crime After Crime,” which follows two rookie lawyers on a mission to free Deborah Peagler, a survivor of brutal domestic violence who, in 1983 was sentenced to life in prison after she was connected to the murder of her abuser although she had nothing to do with the crime.
“Real stories resonate strongly with people,” says Sue Turley, prexy of Roco Prods., adding that “documentaries often present rich adaptation material because a lot of the heavy lifting has already been done by the filmmaker.”
Since there’s already several film markets across the U.S., Jucaud says the Remakes Market doesn’t present mainstream projects and properties. “Studios already know what films are doing well in Europe so we’re looking for gems that went below the radar.”
Remakes of successful properties allow producers to limit risks. But that’s not the only reason behind the popularity of makeovers and adaptations.
Indeed, a remake is an ideal co-production vehicle. Moreover, “shooting overseas in countries offering generous tax incentives can be very attractive,” says Jucaud, adding that the Remakes Market highlights properties coming from places like South Africa or France that offer tax rebates or co-production opportunities.
Next up, the Remakes Market may launch in India as early as next March. “India is a major production hub with 100 films getting made every day and producers there are well-organized and hungry for new ideas.”
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