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.
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
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.
Ph.D. student, University of Chicago
Instructor, Yokohama City University
More information about the KineJapan