"Old Boy" proceeds despite legal scuffle

Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:03am EDT

Actor Will Smith waves after accepting the award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture at the 40th Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Shrine auditorium in Los Angeles February 12, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Actor Will Smith waves after accepting the award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture at the 40th Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Shrine auditorium in Los Angeles February 12, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

TOKYO/SEOUL (Hollywood Reporter) - Steven Spielberg and Will Smith are moving forward with plans for a remake of "Old Boy" despite a complex, behind-the-scenes rights wrangle involving the Japanese publishers of the original manga and the Korean producers of Park Chan-Wook's 2003 cult hit.

Futabasha, publisher of the manga by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya, has filed a case against Show East in Seoul, alleging the Korean company never had the right to negotiate a remake.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that Show East has shut down and its CEO, Kim Dong-Ju, has disappeared. Big Egg, a co-producer of the ultra-violent revenge flick, has also closed up shop, and its former staffers are unreachable.

"We haven't been able to confirm that Show East is bankrupt, and at this stage we're not sure what effect this will have on the legal case," said a spokesperson from Futabasha in Tokyo, who noted that legal proceedings had begun last week.

South Korean sales company Cineclick Asia, which represented Show East's "Oldboy" in international territories, actually negotiated the remake deal with Universal.

Universal brought in Roy Lee's Vertigo Entertainment, which has made a specialty of Asian film remakes, to produce the picture, and then Mandate acquired the rights from Universal.

DreamWorks, in one of its first moves in the wake of its November separation from Paramount, secured remake rights from Mandate, which remains involved in the project.

DreamWorks had no comment on the dispute between Futubasha and Show East.

(Editing by Dean Goodman at Reuters)

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