'Akunin' may get Hollywood remake

Actress Fukatsu won top award at Montreal fest

TOKYO – At the first press conference back in Japan since Eri Fukatsu won the best actress award at Montreal on September 6 for “Akunin” (”Villain”), it was announced that the film is attracting strong international interest -- including a Hollywood remake offer.
 
Fukatsu was joined by co-star Satoshi Tsumabuki and director Sang-il Lee (“Hula Girls”) at a packed presser at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on Tuesday.
 
“When I made the film, I wasn't thinking about a global audience at all,” said Lee, “It was aimed at Japanese people and looks at issues of alienation and the dark side of society.”
 
Lee explained though that as a Korean-Japanese he had something of an outsider's perspective on Japan, despite having been born and grown up in the country,
 
“I went to pro-North Korean schools in Japan up until high school and didn't really mix with Japanese people until university,” said Lee.
 
Fukatsu, best-known for the hugely successful “Bayside Shakedown” series, talked about the challenges of playing a confused character in such a dark film.
 
Tsumabuki, who plays the murderous male lead, acknowledged the role was very different from the clean-cut pretty boys he has made his name playing.
 
“I usually discuss what roles I'll take with my manager, but after reading the novel the film is based on, I just pursued the part by myself,” said Tsumabuki.

One of the film’s producers, Genki Kawamura, said that “Akunin” had been attracting a lot of overseas interest since Fukatsu’s triumph in Montreal.
 
“The film has already been sold to Hong Kong and Taiwan, and we are now in final negotiations for Korea, Singapore and Malaysia,” said Kawamura, a member of The Hollywood Reporter’s Next Generation Asia class of 2010, “And last week we got a remake offer from a Hollywood studio which we are now discussing.”
 
Kawamura told The Hollywood Reporter that there is also interest from Asia for a remake.
 
“Akunin” was beaten to the Japan entry for the Foreign Language Oscar by another dark film from Toho, “Kokuhaku” (“Confessions,”) which Kawamura also worked on.
Released by Toho on September 11, “Akunin” is currently second on the boxoffice charts behind “Resident Evil: Afterlife” – known locally as “Biohazard 4 Afterlife” – which world premiered in Tokyo at the beginning of the month.
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