Ring remake

jeffrey isaacs jdi1 at midway.uchicago.edu
Sat Oct 19 21:38:39 EDT 2002

Just heard a very good 5 minute story put together by Beth Accomando 
for PRI's The World radio program on the release of Ring remake which 
attributes Ring and a dozen other Asian film remakes (that many?) to 
producer Roy Lee. Did anyone catch the piece on the radio? Can anyone 
tell more about Roy Lee?

The PRI story claimed that Asian films are perfect for remake by 
Hollywood because they are in familiar genres and because studio 
execs get to look at "fully realized product" before having to decide 
if it'd 'work' - meaning, I gather, if it would work for American 
audiences. The story goes on to discuss the changes made to adapt 
Ring for Hollywood.

One of the producers for Ring remake described the Japanese original 
as ambiguous, vague, having clues that don't match up. The makers of 
the new version have apparently fixed that problem and have "turned 
an inexplicable horror into a detective story." I only watched the 
Japanese film once (Ring gekijyo kanzenban, I think it was) but it 
seemed to me to be tightly organized and to adhere to Hollywood's 
rules for narrative clarity.  It was certainly no more confounding 
than an episode of X-files - with which it seems to share an 
aesthetic of perpetually postponed resolution and, of course, both 
are set up as serials - which, I gather, Ring remake is not. 
Interestingly, the director of Ring remake, Gore Verbinski, said he 
tried to give the "false feeling" that the narrative moves forward. 
Doesn't it?

The radio story ended with a comment on the reaction of a Japanese 
film industry representative who supposedly described the Hollywood 
remake as "very good, very scary, very American." I interpret the 
very American comment as a good indication that Ring remake will not 
be very well received in Japan - not because Japanese audiences don't 
like American films, clearly they do.

People on this list have commented on the strategic use of 
recognizable actors from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea in Japanese film 
and vice-versa to make films appeal to audiences in more than one 

In listening to the story, it occurred to me that despite the fact 
that everyone knows that audiences outside of the US contribute a lot 
towards the earnings of US-made films, those people actually making 
the films in Hollywood don't seem to give sufficient weight to 
international audiences when they are planning their films. Maybe it 
is only Asian audiences that are under recognized?

For those of you who know the nuts and bolts of how Hollywood films 
are planned and made, I ask, could this possibly be true? Doesn't 
some financial forecaster chime in with, "make it resemble the 
Japanese original in tone a little more and you can count on $15mil 
extra from Japanese rentals"? Maybe this is a secret known only to 
the agents for Jean Reno and Steven Segal? Or, is the potential 
profit too insignificant to make it worth raising in a Hollywood 
pre-production meeting?

You can listen to the PRI story at http://www.theworld.org (October 
18 show) - but it appears that PRI's The World shows are available 
on-line for only a week.

Jeff Isaacs

Ph.D. student, University of Chicago
Instructor, Yokohama City University

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