Ari Aster, the acclaimed director of Hereditary and Midsommar, is set to produce an English-language remake of the genre-bending Korean film Save the Green Planet!, it was announced Thursday by CJ Entertainment.
Original filmmaker Joon-hwan Jang is returning to direct from a script by Will Tracy, who writes for HBO’s Succession. Aster and Lars Knudsen will produce under their Square Peg banner alongside Francis Chung of CJ, which will finance the remake. CJ’s Miky Lee, Young-ki Cho, Jerry Ko will serve as executive producers, while the company’s Fred Lee, Ini Chung, and Khan Kwon will co-produce and oversee development of the project.
Per CJ, the original film follows Byun-gu, a bitter, paranoid and eccentric beekeeper who, with the help of his tightrope walker girlfriend, Sooni, kidnaps a powerful and successful businessman, Man-sik. Byun-gu believes that Man-sik is an alien from the planet Andromeda, one of many hiding among us and plotting to destroy the Earth in a few days. Amphetamine-popping Byun-gu sees himself as the planet’s last hope, and sets about torturing Man-sik with relish, trying to convince him to contact the “Royal Prince” and call off Armageddon. A battle of wits and wills ensues, with Man-sik trying to convince his captors that he’s human and attempting to escape. Man-sik recognizes Byun-gu as a disgruntled former employee whose comatose mother suffers from a mysterious illness. It begins to seem that Byun-gu’s true motivation may be personal, but he’s still ruthlessly determined to get Man-sik to confess and cooperate, even if he has to risk killing him. Meanwhile, a dishevelled detective, Chu, and his young acolyte, Inspector Kim, discover that the person who kidnapped Man-sik may have struck several times before, always with deadly results.
I saw Save the Green Planet! in college and remember liking it as far as it goes, but it was never a favorite. I was watching a lot of new Asian cinema at the time — well, it was all new to me, and suddenly available now that I was in New York City — and I found myself gravitating toward Oldboy (released in 2003, the same year as Save the Green Planet!) and the Japanese movie Cure. Save the Green Planet! was part of that wave and managed to build its own legacy as a modern cult classic in some corners.
The thing is, if you’re going to remake Save the Green Planet! then you need to bring in a new filmmaker to make their own version. Hollywood is littered with English-language remakes that were directed by the original filmmakers, and while some of those films lived up to their predecessors, few have ever surpassed them. If Aster wasn’t going to direct this himself, I wish CJ and Square Peg had let him select an up-and-coming genre filmmaker to work with, rather than bringing back Jang, who never had another crossover hit.
“Swinging with youthful abandon between white-knuckle suspense, absurd slapstick, grim horror and a deeply felt (and earned) sense of tragedy, Save the Green Planet! is one of the most remarkable films to come out of South Korea — among this recent wave or any wave, for that matter. When we heard that director Jang was passionate about revisiting this iconic work, bringing it to the US and updating it to reflect the mess of the world today (which feels even more ripe for this kind of apocalyptic skewering than when the film was first released), we leapt at the chance to be a part of it,” Aster and Knudsen said in a joint statement.
“One thing we learned from our success with Parasite is that audiences globally are excited to see genre-bending films with big themes. Jang is a master of this in his own right, and we’re so glad to be working alongside Ari, Lars, and Will to help translate what made the original so special to an English language version that feels relevant to what’s going on today,” said Miky Lee.
CJ Entertainment is the Korean conglomerate behind this year’s Best Picture winner Parasite, and the company is also developing an HBO limited series based on Bong Joon-ho‘s award-winning thriller. CJ is also working with Universal on an English-language remake of the Korean hit Extreme Job that is slated to star Kevin Hart, and Avatar star Joel David Moore is directing a remake of the 2013 Korean horror-thriller Hide and Seek that will star Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The company’s latest film, Endings, Beginnings, stars Shailene Woodley, Jamie Dornan and Sebastian Stan.
Collider broke the news that Mark Ruffalo is being sought to star in the Parasite series, and you can read more about that right here.