While on the set of Takashi Shimizu’s upcoming 7500, I got to sit down with a few other journalists and producer Roy Lee, who almost single-handedly spearheaded the J-Horror craze of the early 00’s, producing remakes of over a dozen foreign language horror films including, The Ring and The Grudge, as well as Martin Scorsese’s Oscar winning, The Departed.
We’ll have full coverage of the new, original, aviation-based horror film closer to the release date, but today we have a slew of updates on Lee’s very busy development slate. During the interview, Lee talked about rebooting The Ring and The Grudge, a new ending for Spike Lee‘s English-language Oldboy remake that he promises will be darker than the original, directors he wants to work with, spoofs of his own films, getting beaten to the punch by The Hunger Games, his excitement for remaking Poltergeist, the current state of Japanese horror and more.
Roy Lee: Its definitely tapered off a bit. I haven’t really watched as many. There are some that are made but they just haven’t gotten the recognition that the ones that were made by [Hideo] Nakata and [Takashi] Shimizu and [Takashi] Miike in the late 90s.
Why do you think that is?
Lee: It’s just because a lot of the great ones were made and then some of them started to repeat themselves and then the audience got a little tired of it and so there was less investment to make those movies and so those filmmakers went on to go do other things.
Is there anyone you want to work with specifically?
Lee: I’ve wanted to work with [Kairo aka Pulse director] Kiyoshi Kurosawa, but he has not been making horror movies recently.
What’s exciting to you in horror right now?
Lee: I’m constantly looking for something that will be pushing the audience to new scares in horror movies. But Jason [Blum has] been doing a tremendous job with the Paranormal [Activity] movies and he has this movie called Sinister which will be coming out which is a hybrid of found footage and live action. Scott Derrickson will be directing. I’ve just been reading scripts and hoping to find something. I have a couple scripts in mind that we’re hoping to do in the same budgetary range as  and continue on to just experiment and hopefully one of them will be made right after this one but we’re in the negotiation stage right now.
Lee: We are planning to shoot Oldboy in March and that should start preproduction in late January.
Does anything remain from the Justin Lin version of Oldboy written by the Better Luck Tomorrow scribes?
Lee: This is a completely new version written by Mark Protosevich.
Is there anything you can tell us about the approach or style of the new Oldboy?
Lee: It’s very similar, but we’ve added new elements. Or, Mark Protosevich has come up with new elements to it that will throw off the audience who have seen the original movie because there are new characters and new situations that present themselves in a way that changes the story but eventually go in the same direction.
The ending of the film isn’t the same as the Manga on which it’s based. Are you going to retain some of the more controversial elements of the original last act?
Lee: The ending will be something that the audiences will all be…especially the fans of the original will be very happy with. In fact, some may consider it to be a bit darker.
Lee: There’s a sort of different interpretation of that hallway scene that is going to hopefully be Spike’s signature moment in the movie that we want to show in a way that we’ve never seen done in an action movie.
Are you guys looking to revive The Ring or The Grudge?
Lee: We are looking to do a new version of The Grudge but we haven’t decided on exactly what it will be. We’ve just put it out to the film community that we are hearing takes from writers on what they could bring to the table on what their thoughts are on a new version of The Grudge.
With The Ring 3, are you looking to continue the story or start something new?
Lee: It’s the same thing with The Grudge where we’re hearing takes and actually having a script written just to see if it works in terms of trying to restart a Ring franchise.
How do you keep things fresh when you’re rebooting a remake of a film that had sequels and prequels?
Lee: Like [with 7500’s development] we hear different pitches from people who have their ideas and once somebody hears an idea that we really like, we potentially execute that.
Lee: Hunger Games definitely took a lot of wind out of the sails because it definitely has a very similar storyline and so I’m not actually sure if any studio…I’m not even sure if before Hunger Games any studio would have been able to take the creative risks you need to make the movie right and now so would be even harder.
Are you attached to The Storm remake?
Lee: It’s one of those things like The Grudge reboot where we’re just sort of hearing takes on it. Nothing further than that. I’d say the one I’m most excited about updating is the Poltergeist reboot. That is probably something…hopefully next year that somebody will be able to accomplish.
Are you producing that one?
Lee: In talks.
With MGM or the new regime.
Have you seen any of the parody movies of your films? What do you make of them?
Lee: I enjoy them because I find them quite funny, but I do think that once a horror genre is commonly parodied in other movies it sort kills that genre or that specific take on that genre. Once it sort of becomes a joke in and of itself, so you have to push and find something new.