After accepting four Oscars for Parasite, including Best Picture and Best Director, it’s safe to say that Bong Joon Ho is the toast of the town. Everyone in Hollywood wants to work with Bong, so to say he’s in high demand right now would be an understatement.
Bong recently revealed that he’s preparing two projects at the moment. “One is a Korean-language one, and the other one is an English-language one,” explained the filmmaker. “Both projects are not big films. They’re the size of Parasite or Mother. The Korean film is located in Seoul and has unique elements of horror and action. It’s difficult to define the genre of my films. The English project is a drama film based on a true event that happened in 2016.”
I’m glad it sounds like we won’t have to wait too long for Bong’s next project, whatever it may be. But his statement made me curious. If Bong did decide to make a “big film,” what might that look like? Which development projects would studios even offer him? And what is it about those projects that might appeal to him?
Now, obviously, Bong has no shortage of original ideas himself, so there’s no guarantee he’ll ever tackle a studio assignment since he has always generated his own material. But nonetheless, we came up with 10 high-profile projects that we’d love to see Bong direct, since it’s inevitable that Hollywood is going to gauge his interest regarding studio tentpoles. Sometimes, those nine-figure budgets are a unique creative challenge unto themselves, so we tried to keep our choices semi-realistic. Feel free to chime in with your own picks in the comments section below, and stay tuned to Collider for more on Bong’s HBO series based on Parasite.
Strangers on a Train
With Parasite, Bong was called a modern day Hitchcock, and wouldn’t it be fascinating to see him put his spin on one of the master’s most cherished classics, which will inevitably be remade, whether we like it or not. Gus Van Sant already remade Psycho, and remakes of The Birds and To Catch a Thief are in the works at Universal and Paramount, respectively. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. has been developing a reboot of Strangers on a Train for the last five years. It was initially announced as a David Fincher project starring Ben Affleck, but we think Bong would be a great choice, and there’s a lot to this story and its themes of class for him to explore. Affleck is slated to play a movie star in the middle of an Oscar campaign whose private plane breaks down, so he hops on another plane owned by a wealthy stranger with a unique proposal for him. That premise sounds Bongalicious to me. And speaking of Fincher…
World War Z 2
Can you imagine Bong Joon Ho taking the reins of this long-delayed zombie sequel? After all, he spent a lot of time on the awards campaign trail this fall alongside Brad Pitt… maybe they got to chatting? Paramount was excited about the script they had, the problem was that Fincher wouldn’t compromise on the budget, and when he walked, Pitt’s own enthusiasm took a hit. But if Paramount could entice Bong to take the director’s chair, Pitt might change his tune, and I bet Bong could deliver a high-quality sequel while keeping the budget from spiraling out of control. There’s a lot he could examine as far as capitalism goes, all under the guise of a smart genre movie.
I hate to keep giving Fincher’s leftovers to Bong — Black Hole and Rendezvous with Rama were also in contention for this list — but we’re still not finished with Fincher yet! Back in the day, he was planning adapt the acclaimed graphic novel from Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko with Matt Damon set to star, though David Lowery took the reins about seven years ago. Since then, it’s been quiet… too quiet. The thing is, if you look at the entertainment landscape these days, Torso would clearly work best as a limited series. The story follows Eliot Ness as he hunts a serial killer who has been leaving behind bodies all over Cleveland. The idea of Bong tackling a serial killer thriller set in middle America with an iconic figure like Ness at its center is a tantalizing possibility, so even though Bong is already prepping a limited series with Adam McKay, another one couldn’t hurt, so long as it’s this one — which is almost sure to lure an A-list lead as Ness.
I Am Legend reboot
I Am Legend is one of the highest-grossing movies in Warner Bros.’ storied history, and the studio has spent years trying to reboot the franchise, since — spoiler alert! — Will Smith dies at the end of the first film. Is there a way to continue that story, or does it make more sense to start anew? We’d like to think that Bong Joon Ho would have a few ideas regarding the next chapter in this would-be franchise.
The Hunger Games prequel
I know, I know, but hear me out. This bestselling book series is about kids who are selected via lottery to participate in a compulsory death match called the Hunger Games. If Bong Joon Ho was ever going to direct a YA movie, wouldn’t it be something super dark and messed up like that? Suzanne Collins‘ prequel novel, titled The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, is due out on May 19. It is said to take place 64 years before the start of the original Hunger Games novels, and center around President Snow as a young man.
“With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival,” Collins said in a statement. “The reconstruction period ten years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days — as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet — provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.” Humanity is ever-present in Bong’s work, and there’s certainly plenty to explore regarding themes of class, which has become the director’s trademark of sorts.
The Devil in the White City
Before Bong became the Oscar-winning director of Parasite, he was known first and foremost as the director of Memories of Murder, the acclaimed serial killer thriller. There are several serial killer projects in the works around town that might appeal to Bong — The Monster of Florence at George Clooney‘s Smokehouse, The Boston Strangler at WB, The Shining Girls at Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Appian Way, the American Psycho reboot at Lionsgate — but The Devil in the White City may be the most prestigious of all of them. The book follows the architect of the 1893 World’s Fair and Dr. H.H. Holmes, the serial killer who uses it to lure women to their deaths. The story is decidedly American, but no one has been able to crack it yet, so a fresh approach may be just what the doctor called for. This one is also in development at Appian Way as a TV series, and though Martin Scorsese has been attached to direct, he’s moving on to Killers of the Flower Moon with Leo, so he may be inclined to let someone else take a stab at the material, especially Bong, whom he befriended this past awards season.
Universal is a studio that could also use Bong Joon Ho. The studio would love to reboot the Jason Bourne franchise, but that seems too easy for Bong. No, if he was going to make a spy-driven action movie, he should go after Mission: Impossible 9 or the next James Bond movie that will see the character recast. But even then, he’d be working within strict confines. So long as Tom Cruise is playing Ethan Hunt, he’ll always call the shots on that franchise, and the same goes for Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. No… if Bong wanted to truly put his own stamp on something, he should take a look at Section 6 over at Universal, about the World War I-era formation of British intelligence agency MI6 and its first director, who served as the inspiration for M in the Bond franchise. Joe Cornish developed the project for years, to no avail. The project was caught up in some legal trouble with MGM, but assuming that has all been worked out, a Bong Joon Ho riff on a Bond movie would be very, very cool.
The Creature from the Black Lagoon
It seems like a no-brainer for Universal to try and recruit Bong for a movie based on one of its classic monsters. The studio is letting filmmakers do what they want, so if Bong sparked to Van Helsing or The Bride of Frankenstein, I’m sure they’d love him to pitch an original take on those characters. I simply picked The Creature from the Black Lagoon because I think it’d one of Universal’s lesser-known monsters, so there’s more room for Bong to create his own creature, something he did once before for The Host. Something tells me he’d be the right fit for that project.
I doubt Bong wants to do a superhero movie, but if he did, he could do a whole lot worse than working with two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali. Blade represents a unique opportunity, as the character has yet to be introduced to the MCU, though audiences are familiar with him thanks to the Wesley Snipes trilogy from 20 years ago. Little is known about the direction that Kevin Feige plans to take the character, but if he was ever going to land an Oscar-winning filmmaker like Bong, this might be the movie.
Justice League Dark
Here’s one I’ll bet you forgot about, because I sure did! When I went into our backend to look for photos of Bong for this story, I found a split of him and J.J. Abrams. A quick Google search brought me to this article, which says that Abrams met with Bong in South Korea in 2010, and the two of them planned to collaborate together on a project that Bong would direct and Abrams would produce. Obviously, nothing has come to fruition yet, but with Abrams and his Bad Robot banner signing a megadeal with WarnerMedia, they’re in a strong position to muscle projects through the pipeline. Wunderkind follows Nazi hunters in the 70s, so I think Jordan Peele’s new Amazon series took a bit of air out of that one. Zanbato is an idea that Guillermo del Toro has developed for years, so I don’t see Bad Robot just handing that one over to Bong.
Personally, my vote would be to see Bong’s take on Boilerplate, about a robot’s adventures through history, but there are two other Bad Robot projects that might generate considerably more excitement — the next Star Trek movie or Justice League Dark. Even though part of me thinks Bong would rather do something unrelated to Marvel or DC, like The Crow or The Toxic Avenger, the other part thinks that if Bong did do a comic book movie, he’d gravitate towards something like Justice League Dark. Bong has previously said he respects comic book movies, but he isn’t sure he’d want to direct one himself because he can’t stand the tight clothing they wear. At least with Justice League Dark, he’d be able to play with the costumes more than, say, Batman, Superman or Spider-Man…
For more on Bong’s thoughts regarding comic book movies and whether they qualify as “cinema,” click here.