Quebec director Ken Scott is relishing the challenge of heading to Hollywood to remake his francophone hit Starbuck in English.
It's an unusual development for a Canadian director to be approached by a studio like Dreamworks to remake a film.
While Hollywood is fully prepared to rework successful movie ideas from around the world, the studio typically finds a new director for the remake — as in the case of the excellent Swedish film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo that was remade for Hollywood by director David Fincher.
"We toured with the movie in the United States and we saw the reaction to the movie there," Scott said Wednesday at a news conference in Montreal.
"The comedy worked very well with them. And I wanted to make sure that, if there was a remake, we would make sure that all the right ingredients were back in that remake."
On Wednesday, Scott and screenwriter co-writer Martin Petit received the Guichet d'Or, a $20,000 honour from Telefilm recognizing the highest-grossing francophone film of the past year. Starbuck earned $3.5 million at the box office in 2011 alone.
Scott and his producer André Rouleau shopped the film around Los Angeles before settling on a deal with Dreamworks.
"I feel I am very free to tell the story that needs to be told…I really feel we are on the same page — the producers from Dreamworks and André Rouleau and myself. Telling that same story that is a mix between comedy and the exploration of the theme what fatherhood is all about," Scott said.
He's writing the new script now and putting together cast and crew for a shoot in New York. Scott said he's so busy, he doesn’t have time to be nervous.
New actor for lead role
For Starbuck's Hollywood remake, Scott has recruited Wedding Crashers and The Break-Up star Vince Vaughn to play the lead role, a move he hopes will help draw audiences.
The original version of Starbuck starred veteran comedy actor Patrick Huard as a man who gives repeatedly to a sperm bank and learns 20 years later that he has fathered more than 500 children. While the children, now young adults, sue to discover his identity, he becomes fascinated with what is happening in their lives.
Huard says the story touches on themes of fatherhood that have emotional resonance beneath the laughs.
"The richness of this movie is the fact that the first three minutes, you think it's gonna be sort of a goofy comedy. But by the fifth minute, you are sucked into this guy's story and you totally believe it and you're with him," Huard told CBC News.
"Ken has his own energy — sort of romantic comedy all the time. When it's funny, it's always emotional in the background, and when it's emotional, it's funny in the background," he added.
Producer Rouleau added that landing Vaughn as the lead was a stroke of luck.
"It was not a regular casting process. He knew about the project and he contacted us and we had a meeting. And he said 'I love this project.' ... We feel he is the best in the world to do this film."
Scott first made a name for himself as screenwriter for the hit Quebec film La Grande Seduction (Seducing Dr. Lewis). He also wrote the French and English versions of the Maurice Richard biopic The Rocket.
Starbuck is his second turn as director, after the gangster comedy Les doigts croches (Sicky Fingers), but Huard said he's not surprised Scott has pulled off a Hollywood deal.
"It doesn't happen often. Usually they buy the rights and do it their way. The fact that they asked Ken to do it tells you a lot about his talent, but also about his vision. They need him to do it again."
Rouleau said the original Starbuck will be released in Germany and France soon and has also been sold to other markets around the world.