9:55pm PT by Lee Hyo-won, Patrick Brzeski
Fox, Sony Circling Remake Rights to Korean Zombie Hit 'Train to Busan' (Exclusive)
South Korea's first zombie blockbuster, Train to Busan, has sparked a bidding war for remake rights, with 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures and several of France's biggest studios competing for the property.
Still on release in South Korea, where it continues to smash local box-office records, the zombie thriller was produced by Seoul-based Next Entertainment World (NEW). The company's international rights division, Contents Panda, is handling the sale, and France's Gaumont, Canal Plus and EuropaCorp are circling the property along with the two U.S. studios, a source close to the negotiations tells THR.
Contents Panda senior manager Danny Lee declined to the confirm the names of the companies in the negotiations but acknowledged the interest. "Several major Hollywood studios as well as top French and European companies have made inquiries about remake rights, with some even making offers," he said. "There has been a lot of interest since the film received positive reviews at the Cannes Film Festival in May. It is currently doing very well in the local box office, so we are in no rush to make deals right away."
Train to Busan opened on July 22 and grossed $38.8 million in its first five days, an all-time record for the Korean box office. So far, the film has grossed $63.9 million in South Korea alone.
Critically acclaimed animator Yeon Sang-ho makes his live-action directorial debut with the thriller. It chronicles the chaos that ensues after a deadly virus sweeps through Korea and passengers aboard a bullet train from Seoul to the southern port city of Busan, which is ensconced from the outbreak, must fight for their survival.
Lee said French studios have been especially interested in remaking the film. "There seems to be more ways for French fillmmakers and audiences to relate to the story, because bullet trains are a big part of daily life there, as in Korea," he said.