Japanese Thriller 'Birthright' to Get a Hollywood Remake

Birthright Poster - P 2014
Courtesy of B/HImpact

Birthright Poster - P 2014

The J-horror movie is the fourth English remake of a Japanese film by All Nippon Entertainment Works

The little seen but critically acclaimed Japanese horror thriller Birthright (known in Japan as Saitai) is getting an American remake.

This will be the latest project from All Nippon Entertainment Works (ANEW). This time it is being done in association with the Japanese filmmaker Naoki Hashimoto’s Wilco Co. Ltd and Hollywood filmmakers at Depth of Field.

The original Birthright was produced, written and directed by Hashimoto. It first screened at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2010.  At the 14th Shanghai International Film Festival, it earned a special jury honor in the Asian New Talent competition. It got a release in Japan in 2011 but was not distributed in other countries.  

Birthright tells the story of a  housewife who invites a young woman to interact with her family, only to learn she may be the daughter that the woman secretly abandoned at birth. As the movie progresses, it becomes clear the young woman is hiding dangerous secrets and is seeking revenge. That has an impact on the woman, her husband and their 15-year-old daughter.

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A Hollywood Reporter review called it a “tone poem,” and like other reviews reported the original moved at a very slow pace.

“[Hashimoto] definitely wanted to put forth a feeling of loss and despair and just wanting to be loved by this abandoned daughter,” said Annmarie Bailey, ANEW’s senior vp, creative affairs, adding: “He wanted you to feel what it was like to be in the room with her and just be tortured. That was a creative decision that he made. Obviously for our adaptation and for global audiences we have to pick up the pace which is what we’re going to do.”

Bailey said Hashimoto is in agreement with the planned  changes being planned; and has had a number of teleconferences with the producers and writers at Depth of Field, the company founded by brothers Chris and Paul Weitz and Andrew Miano in 1999.

The producers working on Birthright for Depth of Field are Andrew Milano and Dan Balgoyen. They have hired as writers Dallas Hallam and Patrick Horvath, who directed and co-produced the 2012 horror thriller Entrance.

“[Entrance] has the same sort of tome as the original Birthright,” said Bailey, “so I knew they would pick up on those nuances and bring them into the adaptation.”

ANEW is funded by the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, which is partly funded by an investment fund created by the Japanese government. interpreter 

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ANEW finances the acquisition, complicated clearance of the chain of title and the development of each property; and then takes them to U.S. studios and financiers for funding and distribution.

In the case of Birthright, Bailey said they hope to go to market in early 2015 and envision it as a low budget movie; although that could change depending on the script and reception. They are shooting for it to be released in 2016.

This is the fourth Japanese movie to be acquired by ANEW for development into an English-language movie for release worldwide.

Depth of Field’s Milano and Balgoyen are also working with ANEW on Ghost Train. Other projects ANEW has set up as Hollywood remakes of Japanese pictures are Soul ReViver, in association with Fields Corp. and filmmakers Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz; and a live action remake of Toei Animations robot anime Gaiking, with producer Gale Ann Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment.