The Spanish-language horror hit The Orphanageis getting a US remake, with Guillermo del Toro as producer and low-budget horror veteran Larry Fessenden at the helm. But why remake such a recent and critically acclaimed film?
The Hollywood Reporter announced yesterday that Fessenden, who has worked mostly on limited release thrillers like Wendigo and The Last Winter, would remake the 2007 film, about a woman who, with her husband and adopted son, returns to her hometown to fix up the orphanage where she grew up, only to find her son befriended by the ghosts that haunt it. The original film, which was also produced by del Toro and directed by his protege Juan Antonio Bayona, received critical acclaim upon its release, and great success with audiences worldwide.
New Line bought the rights to remake The Orphanage with del Toro back in 2007, and now it seems likely we'll see that remake in the next few years. And with the American remake of the 2008 Swedish vampire film already scheduled for a 2010 release, it's apparent that studios believe these foreign horror films are a sure thing — at least when they're in English.
But won't a remake of The Orphanage so soon after its original US release feel like a retread? Maybe not where the box office is concerned. The Orphanage earned ten times more abroad than it did from its US release, and New Line probably hopes to replicate the film's foreign success at home. So why not simply give these foreign films a bigger marketing push in the first place and avoid the cost of remaking them? It's likely another example of studios playing it safe with stories that are already hits instead of taking risks on fresh scripts. As Bayona himself said after his film's release:
The Americans have all the money in the world but can't do anything, while we can do whatever we want but don't have the money...The American industry doesn't take chances, that's why they make remakes of movies that were already big hits.