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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: FilmDistrict

'Red Dawn' remake to come out next year from FilmDistrict

September 26, 2011 | 12:28 pm

Photo: A scene from the original "Red Dawn" in 1984. Credit: MGM / United Artists.

This post has been corrected. Please see note at the bottom for details.

A remake of the invasion movie "Red Dawn" — with its villains now digitally modified from Chinese to North Korean — will finally hit American shores next year.

The new version of the Reagan-era classic will be released in the U.S. by independent studio FilmDistrict, according to people familiar with the matter but not authorized to discuss it publicly. FilmDistrict is finalizing a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio that produced the movie in 2009.

In the original "Red Dawn," a group of teenagers in a Colorado town battle invading Soviet forces; in the remake, the invaders were changed to Chinese. But that decision turned the film into a hot potato.

After MGM emerged from bankruptcy in late 2009 and decided it wouldn’t release the movie, no other studio wanted to touch “Red Dawn” for fear of offending the government of China, a hugely important market in the increasingly global film business.

As a result, the movie’s producers last winter used digital technology and creative editing to change most of the invaders to North Koreans. (Staunchly communist North Korea is economically isolated and not a market for any American products.) Still, it took most of the year to find a distributor willing to take the movie on.

FilmDistrict Chief Executive Peter Schlessel declined to discuss “Red Dawn.” Given that final details are still being worked out, however, it likely won’t hit theaters until 2012.

The new “Red Dawn” cost about $60 million to produce. It stars Chris Hemsworth, who played the title character in “Thor,” and was directed by Dan Bradley, second unit director on the last two “Bourne” movies and the upcoming “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.”

FilmDistrict, which is backed by finance and production company GK Films, launched in April with the horror hit “Insidious." Its most recent release is the Ryan Gosling L.A. noir film, “Drive.”

[For the Record, Sept. 28, 2:15 p.m.: An early version of this post incorrectly said the teenagers in the original film who battled invading Soviet forces lived in Washington. ]

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— Ben Fritz and John Horn

Photo: A scene from the original "Red Dawn" in 1984. Credit: MGM / United Artists.


'Drive's' colorful ads suggest an unusual movie

September 14, 2011 |  1:42 pm

Gosling

The flamboyant, pink script that accompanies the billboards for “Drive” make Friday’s new Ryan Gosling movie look anything like an ordinary crime thriller—which unlike most Hollywood sales jobs actually qualifies as truth in advertising.

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s (“Bronson”) film is an unusual mash-up of art-house style and  commercial genre moviemaking. It's a film that is attracting overwhelmingly positive reviews but is not lacking in high-speed car chases or sadistic violence.

'Drive': The characters, the billboardsWritten by Hossein Amini (“The Wings of the Dove”), “Drive” stars Gosling as a show business stunt man by day and getaway driver by night. When he falls for his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan), he gets drawn into a rapidly worsening spiral of vicious incidents.

The film's billboard campaign can be seen around Los Angeles and New York, ahead of the film's opening in nearly 2,800 theaters. There are seven billboards in distributor FilmDistrict’s promotional campaign, most of them tagged with the marketing copy, “There are no clean getaways.”

"We've tried to show that it's an elevated genre film--that it's not 'Fast and the Furious' but has a real look and a real style," Bob Berney, FilmDistrict's distribution head, says of the billboards. "That's the hook of the film--it really is different. This is not a typical genre film."

Gosling’s own billboard says “Some heroes are real,” a testament to his character's willingness to fight—and we mean fight—for what he’s trying to protect.

The film's violence is both "Drive's" strongest selling point--fans of Quentin Tarantino's films are likely to love Refn's blood lust--and its greatest hurdle. Upscale moviegoers, who are often propelled into theaters by positive film reviews, might blanch at the gore, or avoid going to see the movie altogether. "It's a really challenging film in that way," Berney says.

RELATED:

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--John Horn

Photo: A billboard for "Drive" featuring Ryan Gosling. Credit: FilmDistrict


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