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Weinsteins Line Up Shanghai and Seven Samurai Remake

by
April 16, 2008
Source: Variety

Seven Samurai

Today the Weinstein Company gives a faithful nod to their upcoming film The Forbidden Kingdom, the first of many projects stemming from their newly created Asian Film Fund. The fund sets aside money for "development, acquisition, financing, distribution and marketing" of Asian films and as of today, they will finance two new projects: Shanghai and a remake of Akira Kurosawa's iconic Seven Samurai. What has this world come to when remaking Seven Samurai becomes the latest Hollywood craze?!

First to the less interesting news: Shanghai will reunite 1408 alums director Mikael Halfstrom and actor John Cusack for a story "set in 1941 China." Fitting familiar faces, Gong Li (Miami Vice) and Ken Watanabe (Batman Begins) will co star. The film is scheduled to begin shooting soon for a Christmas Day release. That's about all we know right now, but you can read more on the project in this article.

Now for the WTF moment: The Weinsteins are actually going to "remake" Kurosawa's classic 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai! For those who don't know, the original story follows seven samurais who are hired by villagers to protect them from bullying bandits. The film is so classic that it's inspired a number of projects over the years, including The Magnificent Seven (1960), which itself spawned three sequels, and Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). I can see fanboys crying as I write this.

While I'm looking forward to see Jet Li and Jackie Chan fight alongside each other in Forbidden Kingdom, I cringe at what the Weinsteins might do to Seven. The film has certainly inspired many others and is paid homage to throughout the industry - including from the likes of George Lucas - but I don't think anyone has actually tried for a "remake." I hope that's a typo. No director is lined up as of yet, but apparently there are "advanced talks" taking place. Thoughts on this crazy news?

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  • http://www.thestopbutton.com/ Andrew Wickliffe
    Is Seven Samurai going to be a straight remake? I thought it was going to be... modernized or "re-envisioned"
  • Jim
    If it's gonna be a remake, what the heck is John Cusack doing in it?
  • Jim
    Oops, he's gonna be in Shanghi, not the Seven Samurai.
  • http://www.youtube.com/nickgligor Nick Gligor
    John Cusack? What the fuck?
  • Anonymous
    No way they're making a Seven Samurai remake. They'll probably use it's story as a back drop for something completely different, probably involving Iraq/Afghanistan.
  • Brent
    I am one of those crying fanboys. News like this, along with what I find ridiculous remakes of classic anime are atrocious. In addressing anime, I'm not a huge buff of the genre, but I appreciate it and I think the specific appeal of the greats such as Akira, Ghost in Shell, Princess Mononoke, among other is the larger than life aspect and the art utilized to carry the story across. I almost find it almost insulting to Kurosa that they would consider remaking one of the greatest classics in film history. To remake it is to imply that there is room for improvement upon it, and I really do not feel that is the case. I hope the anonymous post before me is correct and it is used as a sub-text or story for an entirely modern setting. I would not object as much to another movie like The Magnificent Seven, but set in modern day Baltimore or something.
  • http://movieguyreviews4u.blogspot.com Ryan
    Christ, the Weinstein company is STILL making films? They really hit rock bottom and they just fell further.
  • Billy
    I love how this site operates, I swear its run like paperazi...soon as a small tiny tid bit is released the bloggers here turn it into mega-drama. Look at your post about Indiana's run time, you call yourself out on it "Or are we blowing up a simple bit of data into something way too big?" That said, I remember when the anime Samurai Seven was announced, the company behind it basically had the same release, a remake of Seven Samurai. And guess what? The only thing the same was the basic overall plot, seven samurai coming togther to defend a village against bandits (The anime was set in a far futuristic steam-punk style world). I'd love to see the offical statement/press release/etc instead of your interpretation of what its going to be ( I went through all your links in this article, was unable to find a link to the announcement by Weinstein)
  • Billy
    EDIT - found the link variety wasn't coming up on my work pc
  • Billy
    UGH no edit button FTL. Before anyone calls me out, read the article "Seven Samurai" will start shooting in the fourth quarter for release in 2009. The cast will feature American, European and Asian stars, and a director is in advanced talks with TWC. HMMMMM seems to me its a modern interpretation NOT A ACTUAL REMAKE unless they're planning on putting American and European stars in feudal Japan. So, it would appear the even the most casual of researchers the movie is a revision or interpretation not a "remake" and certainly something that has been attempted several times. Not really shocking news that makes fanboys cry
  • http://www.moviemake-out.com Gordon
    The Seven Samurai remake is really old news, actually, but the fact that they've got financing is a new development. It's far more likely to actually happen now. http://twitchfilm.net/archives/006423.html
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    Okay, Billy, let me address your concern about our site. Yes, that's what we do, we're bloggers and we're guys who like to "spin" things primarily for the sake of discussion. Don't forget that - for the sake of discussion. I want some opinions (like this one) to be as if you were talking to your friends and someone mentioned "oh did you hear, Seven Samurai is being made by the Weinsteins..." Then your friends will go off in a big debate and discussion about how ridiculous that is and so on. That's what is happening hear. If you want the straight up news with no opinion and that's it - you can find it on Variety. And beyond that, people have to read through the crap and realize that some things are fun discussion - no seriously huge concerns. Same with the Indiana Jones running time post - it's not meant to be concerned - I wrote that sentence because I want people to realize it IS just a discussion point!! Plus it's all hype in the end anyway...
  • Billy
    Well, I do respect what you say. But, I'm just saying, seems to go a little far sometimes especially on a topic like this, you're stirring contraversy for the sake of doing it, knowing that a blank statement will make fanboys jump to arms. The article never says its a direct remake, and in fact all of the information in the article seems to point to a modern interpretation. That in itself would lead to a fruitful discussion, except it would be a discussion over something that seems a hundred times more likely then a direct remake with a european-asian-american cast. Thats the point I was trying to get across.
  • Squiggly_P
    it depends on how they "remake" it. The Magnificent Seven was a remake of that flick (you said it was inspired by it, but it's pretty damn close in a lot of scenes), and that does a fairly good job of portraying the same sort of story without rehashing the original. But if they go for a feudal japanese setting, then I can't really see why it would even need a remake. The original is already amazingly ahead of it's time. I'd be willing to wager that if they could clean up the print, clean up the audio and maybe make some minor adjustments to the picture in general you could fool a hell of a lot of people into thinking it was a more modern film than it actually is. That film has some of the most advanced-for-it's-time cinematography I've ever seen.
  • E
    didnt this happen with the whole ed norton hulk thing also on this site?
  • steve
    You forgot A Bugs Life, Pixar's version!
  • dude
    Clearly it's time to remake Gone With The Wind! I don't know what's taking them so long. Also Citizen Kane with its tiresome black and white. Also all the people are dead in those movies. Who wants to watch a movie full of old dead people? Cameron Diaz for Scarlett O'Hara sez I!
  • John Truong
    Seven Samurai is my favorite film, bar none. So much of what we take for granted in modern cinema started in that one movie and the giants of film all know it. That said, I don't really have a problem with a new remake. After all, it's been remade before and many, many films have been variations on the theme. My only objection would be if they touched the original film itself and then rereleased it. Something like reediting the scenes or using CGI to add more villagers and bandits. Now that would be a travesty. Kurosawa's Seven Samurai will stand for all time as one of the great achievements in film and no remake, good or bad, could change that. A decent remake might even inspire some to seek out the original.
  • Ajax
    Stupid studio execs... They propbably have no clue about what they're doing. They're probably just gonna hire 7 pretty boys (i.e. Mathew McConatay) (did I spell that right???...) and completely screw up a clasic... DAMN THEIR OILY HIDES!!!!!!!

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