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U.S. Studios Scouring Europe for Films to Remake (Berlin)

Berlin Film Split

New Line is picking up rights to Til Schweiger's "Rabbit Without Ears," Optimum is opening "The Door," and several others are trying to find titles with translation potential.

BERLIN -- Listen up, Europe: America wants your babies. Your film babies, that is.

New Line is in the midst of picking up the remake right to Til Schweiger's Rabbit Without Ears and Optimum is opening up an English-language version of The Door. All against the backdrop of studios and agents busy scouring titles for translation potential.

Rabbit, one of the most successful movies ever at the German box office, centers on a philandering gossip reporter who finds himself serving community service in a kindergarten where he clashes with a teacher he knew from childhood.

Schweiger co-wrote, co-produced, starred in and directed the movie, which also starred Nora Tschirner.

The movie -- which spawned a sequel, with a third installment on the way -- had its English-remake rights acquired by Newmarket last year, but the deal, which had a progress-to-production component, expired recently, allowing New Line to hop on it.

Schweiger is already in New Line's welcoming arms as he's part of the ensemble cast of the company's all-star New Year's Eve movie being directed by Garry Marshall.

It's not just hits that are getting cherry-picked. The Door, a 2009 German box office Hindenberg that starred Mads Mikkelsen and Jessica Schwartz, is getting the English treatment from Optimum Films.

In the film, a man discovers a door to a parallel universe, which allows him to travel five years into the past and prevent his daughter from dying in an accident. But there's one catch: He has to kill that universe's version of himself.

"Genre films are what U.S. producers are looking at to remake, traditional drama less so," said Irina Ignaitew, executive vp international at Telepool, which handled the Door sale. "Horror, thriller, science fiction -- anything where the story, the look and feel of a project makes them say: Oh, yeah, with a bigger budget and a few tweaks here and there, we could turn this into a blockbuster.'"

That kind of thinking has some buyers thinking out loud that a remake of Attack the Block, a teen-oriented take on the alien invasion genre with heavily accented inner-city London punks, would do better in America than a U.S. release of the film.

Execs and agents are also scratching their heads about how to translate Jose Padhilla's police action dramas Elite Squad and Elite Squad 2 (which had its European premiere in Berlin on Friday night) to an American setting.

Other titles whispered by execs include Derriere le mur (Behind the Walls), a recently wrapped French period fantasy set in the 1920s, telling the tale of a young novelist who discovers a sealed up room in a basement, unleashing visions and nightmares while girls in a local village begin to disappear.

Not to be left out in the cold, Scandinavia remains a hot bed of interest riding the global success of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Let the Right One In. Local hit Snabba cash (Easy Money) is another that got nabbed last year after Berlin and is set up at Warner Bros. as a potential Zac Efron vehicle.

Not willing to wait for the locals to do their own big-screen versions, U.S. scouts are pouncing on new Swedish best-sellers sight unseen.

But not everyone is ready to give it up to the Americans so easily, with the Swedes saying "Not so fast" in these new cases.

"We've had offers from several U.S. companies, including quite big ones on The Hypnotist, even though the book has just come out in English and no one has read it yet," said producer Betril Ohlsson, who is prepping a Swedish-version of the grisly criminal bestseller from Lars Kepler with Lasse Hallstrom on to direct. "But we are going to do the Swedish version first," he says. "Not give it up to Hollywood before we make our own version."

That's also been the attitude of John Ajvide Lindqvist, who wrote the novel and screenplay to the vampire hit Let the Right One In. He's turned down all offers to adapt his new zombie novel, Handling the Undead, until after a Swedish version of the book is made by local director Kristian Petri.

One Scandinavian title that does have people salivating is Headhunters, a Norwegian thriller about a top recruiter with a penchant for art theft who discovers a dark secret about his new executive recruit. The movie has several companies circling for U.S. distribution with some already crying "Remake!"