Japanese movies eyed for makeover. ‘The Ring’ has made Japan hot in Hollywood
With “The Ring,” the horror film based on the 1998 Hideo Nakata hit “Ringu,” sailing past the $100 million mark in the United States, remakes of Japanese and other Asian films are suddenly hot in Hollywood.
Many of the dozens of the recently signed deals will never materialize on the screen, while others will disappoint their backers, just as so many other remakes have failed to live up to expectations over the years.
But the lure of another “Ring”-sized jackpot is drawing Hollywood producers, even if their knowledge of Japanese cinema begins and ends with “Godzilla” and a Kurosawa classic or two.
It was the films of Akira Kurosawa, in fact, that first attracted the attention of Hollywood remakers to Japanese films. His 1954 masterpiece “Seven Samurai” (Shichinin no Samurai) spawned not only John Sturges’s 1960 remake “The Magnificent Seven,” but countless other guys-on-a-mission flicks.
Meanwhile, “Rashomon,” the film that launched Kurosawa on the world stage after it won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, inspired not only the 1964 Martin Ritt film “The Outrage,” but any number of films with multiple viewpoints — and versions of the truth. Finally, his 1961 Eastern-Western “Yojimbo” was appropriated for Sergio Leone’s 1964 remake “A Fistful of Dollars” — the father of all spaghetti westerns and the film that boosted Clint Eastwood to stardom.