Despite its limited availablity in North America, and even prior to last week's DVD/Blu-ray release, plenty of people managed to catch Japanese teenage deathmatch movie Battle Royale. So when Hunger Games hit theaters with a similar premise, few missed the opportunity to compare the two. The Wall Street Journal took the matter to Roy Lee (The Grudge, the Ring), who tried to develop a Hollywood Battle Royale.
Lee says, “The studios were very scared of comparisons to the Columbine shootings — if it got linked to something in which a kid killed another kid, and the perpetrator said they were influenced by the movie, that would of course be a disaster.”
A project that was in development in 2006 was derailed by the Virginia Tech shooting, then ultimately scrapped after Lionsgate licensed Hunger Games.
“Look, there isn’t a studio out there that would invest the money to do a Battle Royale feature film remake now,” he says. “Audiences would see it as just a copy of Games — most of them wouldn’t know that Battle Royale came first. It’s unfair, but that’s reality.”
Lee also commented on the upcoming adaptation of Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi's manga Oldboy, previously brought to the big screen in Park Chan-wook's movie.
“We’re anticipating starting production this September, and we should be finished by year’s end,” says Lee, saying that the movie should please fans of the original. “Spike was a huge fan of Park’s movie, and came to the project with a vision of what it might look like already in his head.”
The remake will “definitely be an interpretation, not a straight adaptation” — but, Lee says, “it actually has a darker take on the ending, if you can believe that’s even possible.”