One of the biggest potential remake projects of the past couple years was the much-derided Steven Spielberg / Will Smith version of Oldboy. Never mind that their film was said to be a new adaptation of the original manga, rather than a straight remake of Park Chan-Wook‘s widely praised (and quite excellent) film. The remake was proclaimed dead many months ago and fans cheered.

Did they cheer too soon? Pajiba has tweeted that Mandate Pictures is high on a new draft that Mark Protosevich is ready to turn in, and that it will go out to Steven Spielberg, Matthew Vaughn and, should they pass, Danny Boyle.

Note that this is a report based on a draft the producers don’t yet have in hand, and that short wishlist is consistent with the short wishlist you’d expect to see for a genre-based remake project like this. If I was producing a new version of Oldboy I’d want Steven Spielberg and Danny Boyle to consider directing it, too.

But if accurate this would mean that there’s enough interest in the project that we might see it eventually. Guess that means fans can resume their angry fantasy casting of the film, and go back to tabled conversations about how the more extreme aspects of the story might be handled in a new version produced in America.

I laughed at the idea of a Spielberg/Smith version of Oldboy along with many other fans. It’s a story that features some pretty dire goings-on, and that particular pairing seemed like one that would result in a film that softened the film’s many blows. But some of the uglier moments in the film could be handled differently, so I’m open to seeing what this script contains.

After watching the beautiful blu-ray of The Searchers last night I’m now thinking about how that film contains really ugly behavior as well, but John Ford allowed it to take place off-screen. The film remains potent — very potent, in fact — because the actors sell the impact of the things we can’t see, and our imagination fills in a lot of gaps. I remember the intersection of imagination and movies; it was pretty great.

I know — I’m using a master director’s established classic of American cinema as a starting point for thinking about a script of which we know next to nothing. Not to mention that two of the three names on the director wishlist aren’t guys who are known for not showing things. I’m just saying there’s an argument to be made for how this remake could be shaped to be less visually confrontational while not neutering the core of the story. Please discuss.

(And, if nothing else, we might get the Oldboy equivalent of Let Me In — that is, a film much like the original, but with a handful of unique, standout moments and performances that are worth watching.)

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