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. ]
— Ben Fritz and John Horn
Photo: A scene from the original "Red Dawn" in 1984. Credit: MGM / United Artists.