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'Oldboy' proceeds despite legal scuffle

Rights wrangle with manga publisher, Park pic's producers

Steven Spielberg and Will Smith are moving forward with plans for a remake of "Oldboy" despite a complex, behind-the-scenes rights wrangle involving the Japanese publishers of the original manga and the Korean producers of Park Chan-Wook's 2003 cult hit.

Futabasha, publisher of the manga by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya, has filed a case against Show East in Seoul, alleging the Korean company never had the right to negotiate a remake.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that Show East has shut down and its CEO, Kim Dong-Ju, has disappeared. Egg Films, a co-producer of the violent revenge flick, said only that it is currently in discussions through a lawyer and that Egg Films is currently not the subject of the lawsuit.

"We haven't been able to confirm that Show East is bankrupt, and at this stage we're not sure what effect this will have on the legal case," said a spokesperson from Futabasha in Tokyo, who noted that legal proceedings had begun last week.

South Korean sales company Cineclick Asia, which represented Show East's "Oldboy" in international territories, actually negotiated the remake deal with Universal.

Universal brought in Roy Lee's Vertigo Entertainment, which has made a specialty of Asian film remakes, to produce the picture, and then Mandate acquired the rights from Universal.

DreamWorks, in one of its first moves in the wake of its November separation from Paramount, secured remake rights from Mandate, which remains involved in the project.

DreamWorks had no comment on the dispute between Futubasha and Show East.

Gavin J. Blair reported from Tokyo; Park Soo-Mee reported from Seoul.