Believe it or not, Steven Spielberg and Will Smith almost remade ‘Oldboy’

When a foreign-language movie becomes a big deal, Hollywood has only one response to the success: it’s time for an English-language remake. Many of these films are critically acclaimed above all because of idiosyncrasies in the cultures they were born into. Even so, Hollywood studios tend to think that foreign-language films would benefit from having all their characters speak English.This phenomenon is so common that unfortunately it is inevitable that Park Chan Wook’s 2003 masterpiece old boys It will also be the material for an American remake.

Adapted from the author’s manga series of the same name Tsuchiya Kanron and Nobuaki Minegishi, old boys It was a huge hit back in 2003, and it proved to be big enough to spark immediate Hollywood interest.In fact, the director is interested enough here steven spielberg and actor Will Smith Collaborate on a possible English remake.A Spielberg-Smith pairing would be big news under any circumstances, especially when it comes to seeing them team up for something new old boys. Even though this version of the remake never materialized, it’s still fascinating to consider that such a project was even on the table.

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How did this remake happen?

old boy investigation scene
Image from NEON

In November 2008, the first news broke that Spielberg and Smith were planning to start working on a new movie. old boys After the two scoured the globe for projects they could collaborate on. Spielberg’s filmography is often reduced to very simple terms, ignoring the tonal complexities of his personal work.Specifically, Spielberg’s films are generally considered more suitable for children, such as AI: artificial intelligence, minority reportand many others show his skill at handling darker material, leaving viewers feeling emotionally devastated rather than excited once the end credits start rolling.

Even considering Spielberg’s ability to make darker films, the idea of ​​him being involved in a brutal film like this old boys Still a surprise. The film’s big “twist” is a devastating, disturbing development that feels far darker than anything else in his non-historical biopics. His acceptance of this suggests that he’s looking to expand his exploration of the darker storylines of the first half of the 2000s. Spielberg’s bleak times won’t end anytime soon, even if he’s now looking to remake Park Chan-wook’s filmmaking rather than expressing his own unique take on human bleak impulses.

Compare that to the idea of ​​an American remake starring Will Smith old boys Around 2008 was a major shift from his normal artistic career.While Smith has earned a reputation for always starring in audience-friendly blockbusters, his forays into more down-to-earth projects tend to be inspirational dramas such as when happiness knocks.something like brutal darkness old boysNot to mention the antithesis of crowd-pleasers, an interesting concept for Smith at this stage of his career. Plus, the idea of ​​him teaming up with a director like Spielberg is an incredibly exciting prospect, even if the two would work better together if it wasn’t a remake of an earlier Park Chan-wook film.

Why This ‘Oldboy’ Remake Failed

scene from the hammer scene in oldboy
Image from NEON

Mark Protosevich hired to write the script for spielberg’s film old boys, making him the third big creative to join the work.screenwriting credits for smith’s 2007 blockbuster film I am a legendthe author has a lot of experience with potential leading men for this version old boys. Protosevich later told IndieWire in 2013 that their production version was little more than a meeting about the remake. According to the writer, Spielberg’s son insisted that his father stay true to the grim vision of the original film, and the filmmaker was committed to following the advice of his descendants, including maintaining that tragic ending.

However, in late 2009, more than a year after the remake was first announced, word emerged that Spielberg and Smith’s version old boys died.Spielberg’s DreamWorks SKG Trying To Get ‘The Movie’ Remake Rights old boys Apparently, he’s been facing enough difficulties to get the director to drop the project.Spielberg and Smith chose to continue working on other projects and the concept for the US version old boys It’s been on the shelves for a while.

Although the public reason for this incarnation is old boys It’s worth noting that Spielberg had several major projects flop in 2009 due to copyright issues.This year, Spielberg also worked on a number of projects that never materialized, including a film about Horace Grisley and the new adaptation Harvey (The latter also focuses on Will Smith in the lead role).For Spielberg, this is not the year to start a new project, as the book says those who will be kings go through Nicole Laporte pointed to the 2008 economic crisis and Spielberg’s difficulty obtaining film rights for DreamWorks projects from Paramount Pictures as one of the reasons why many Spielberg projects crashed and burned in the late 2000s.Does anyone know if these reasons are also taken into account old boysbut it’s interesting to consider the historical context.

What happened to the ‘Oldboys’ remake?

man holding hammer in dimly lit service room
Image via FilmDistrict/Focus Features

In 2011, the United States suddenly announced the remake of old boys restored and now with Spike Lee Sit in the director’s chair.This version of the project is protected josh brolin In the leading role, it ended up being a disastrous box office failure.By this time, the initial wave of hype ushered in the initial old boys outdated, american remake old boys Needed to work overtime to make it compelling on its own terms.Lee’s Marketing old boys That was never done, and rampant press coverage of how the feature was taken from Lee in post-production further tarnished the remake’s reputation.

the legend old boys Remakes show how producers and financiers can leverage pre-existing brand names through things like English-language remakes of classic foreign films. While it sounds like easy money on paper, this creative effort, if done poorly (as many remakes tend to do), can only result in a movie that loses money and ends up being unappealing to anyone.Finally remade in 2013 old boys Has long since faded from people’s memory. However, even if it’s always a bad idea to remake the story in America, Spielberg and Smith’s take on the material can’t help but spark a little imagination.

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