Steven Spielberg to Direct Oldboy Remake Starring Will Smith?

If memory serves, there has been talk of an Oldboy remake since even before the Korean thriller was released here in North America. At the time, I believe Fabian Marquez (Better Luck Tomorrow) was writing the script, with Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) on board to direct. Since then the project was left to rot in development hell, with many fans of the original hoping it would simply stay that way for good.

Not to be my friends! There are still plenty of people out there who think this movie has potential to make money as an American remake, and one of those people, apparently is Steven Spielberg. I suppose it goes without saying that whatever Spielberg wants, Spielberg gets, and in this case, he actually wants Will Smith to star as well! Variety reported a few days ago that Dreamworks was in the process of picking up the remake rights to Oldboy, and if all goes according to plan, they will be looking for a writer ASAP. I fail to see how a Spielberg/Smith collaboration could be a losing venture, but at the same time, I have to wonder how they could make the whole story palatable for a mainstream audience. Anyone who has seen the original knows that it wouldn’t have the same impact without that twist ending. What do you think, could Spielberg do Oldboy justice, or is this just a disaster waiting to happen?

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  • So glad Justin Lin didn’t get to do it!

    This is what I stated in a Whitechapel thread:

    “I don’t always bash remakes like 99% of netpeeps but remaking films that have masterful visceral elements (like the now classic hallway fight) is ridiculous.”

    Later in the thread I followed up with:

    “I think it would be an interesting role for Smith (seeing how he never plays a ruthless killer) but he wouldn’t be close to ideal. However, I really don’t think Spielberg would be capable of making this pop. Oldboy (and I say this w/o having read the manga) requires a director that is capable of making the audience feel that Daisuke’s situation is bleak and nothing is guaranteed. In films where emotions of that nature seem to be the obvious intention Spielberg never hits the right note.”

  • It’s such a bleak film that I couldn’t see Spielberg not tacking on a happy ending, especially considering the fact that Will Smith is in the movie.

    And American audiences are gonna be pretty shellshocked to find out that Will Smith fucked on his own daughter in the movie! I really would want this to work, but from my perspective it has a lot of disaster potential.

    But maybe Spielberg’s clout would help him get away with leaving the bleakness intact. I liked Munich a lot, and it was a pretty bleak film with an ambiguous ending …

  • I won’t discount Spielberg’s talent. When he isn’t afraid to get gritty (Munich, Saving Private Ryan)I definitely enjoy his films.

    That said, the idea of Will Smith as the Oh Dae-Su character enrages me. Smith seems like a good guy but I think his range is extremely limited. He’s always chosen ‘safe’ roles where the audience is meant to sympathize with him. I think it’s too late for him to come across as a believable, complex, conflicted character.

    There’s a slight chance I could see him as the antagonist (Lee Woo-Jin)…thought I’ve always secretly hoped Christian bale would get that role if there’s a remake.

    As far as Oh Dae-Su…I like the idea of Gary Oldman…but he might be TOO old these days. Maybe Edward Norton…

    All in all though, I really don’t see a point in a remake. The original is amazing, perfect just the way it is…i can’t see Hollywood making any improvements; it’s just an insult toward Park Chan-Wook, in my opinion.