'The Secret in their Eyes' could be whispered to English-language audiences
EXCLUSIVE: "The Secret in Their Eyes" found a surprisingly large audience in the United States before, and largely after, it won the foreign-language Oscar. Juan Jose Campanella's dramatic thriller garnered more than $6 million in domestic box office and a wide base of critical support.
Now it could really broaden its audience.
Warner Bros. is in final negotiations to acquire remake rights to the film and develop an English-language version. The production would bring on Hollywood veteran Billy Ray to write and direct the picture. (Ray directed "Shattered Glass" and "Breach" and wrote "Flightplan" and the upcoming "24" movie.) Campanella, who wrote, directed, produced and edited the original, is also expected to be involved in the new version as a producer, after John Ufland, who represents Campanella, brought the film to the studio.
The Argentine film, "El Secreto De Sus Ojos" in its native Spanish, is a crime thriller told in flashback about a policeman confounded by the brutal murder of a young woman. There's a strong narrative backbone to the story, which should help with a more commercially minded remake. But with much of the action taking place in 1974 against the backdrop of the country's military junta, it could also pose some translation challenges. (Filmmakers have yet to decide whether to find American parallels to, or de-emphasize the salient aspects of, the movie's political themes.)
Foreign-language remakes have had a mini-renaissance in Hollywood, particularly where Sweden is concerned, as "Let Me In," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and "Snabba Cash" all have gotten or are getting American redos.
A number of foreign-language Oscar nominees over the years also have been given the remake treatment ("Three Men & a Cradle" and "Scent of a Woman" among them). But among the winners, recent attempts, such as "The Lives of Others," have stalled. Two Federico Fellini-directed winners either inspired a new film ("8 1/2" became "Nine") or gave birth to a more direct remake (Bob Fosse's "Sweet Charity" was based on Fellini's screenplay for "The Nights of Cabiria"). But "Cabiria" won the Oscar back in...1957. It might be time for a new secret.
Photo: "The Secret in their Eyes." Credit: Sony Pictures Classics