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'Battle Royale' could be reborn as a TV show

July 26, 2012|By Steven Zeitchik
  • A scene from "Battle Royale"
A scene from "Battle Royale" (Anchor Bay )

EXCLUSIVE: When "The Hunger Games"hit big in the spring, many blogs were quick to point out the movie’s similarities to "Battle Royale," a 2000 Japanese hit about teenagers in a totalitarian state fighting for survival in a government-imposed competition.

Now a long-stalled U.S. remake of "Battle Royale" could be restarted -- as a TV series.

In the last few weeks, the CW has had talks with the project's Hollywood representatives about the possibility of turning the property into an English-language show, said a person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak about it publicly. The talks were preliminary, but if a deal could be reached, the network would acquire rights to Koushun Takami’s underlying novel, then unpack and expand on it for an hourlong dramatic series.

Asked about the CW talks, Joyce Jun, a Hollywood attorney representing U.S. rights to the title, would say only that "there is no deal in place." A CW spokesman confirmed only there had been some discussion but declined to comment further.

One sticking point to any deal is believed to be the approval of Takami, which according to Japanese law must be secured before any remake moves forward.

The "Gossip Girl" network already has one teen-centered post-apocalyptic show in development, "The Selection," a story of young adults battling for survival in a dystopian future. The network put the show back into development after opting not to pick up the pilot in the recent development season. While it's unlikely any network would put two shows with similar themes on the air at the same time, it could continue developing both and see which one better suits its needs.

The discussions come after years of frustration for backers of an American redo of “Battle Royale” -- and show how a rich TV landscape can offer a second chance to stalled film projects.

Hollywood film producers Neal Moritz ("Fast and the Furious") and Roy Lee (the upcoming “Lego” movie) had been on board to produce a film at New Line as far back as six years ago, long before Suzanne Collins had published "Hunger Games." But a movie project stalled when New Line's operations were consolidated in 2008.

When "Hunger Games" came out in the spring, it effectively killed any chances of a "Royale" film; citing the similarities, producers said at the time that no studio would want to risk looking like copycats.

But a TV series could offer a new opportunity, picking up on the theme but in a different way, much like the CW’s "The Vampire Diaries" found success even in the wake of the first “Twilight” movie.

Apocalyptic survival tales are in vogue at the moment. In addition to "Hunger Games," NBC this season is set to debut J.J. Abrams’s  “Revolution,” about a group of people fighting for survival in a post-technological world.

ALSO:

'Battle Royale' finally gets U.S. release date

'Catching Fire': Is Gary Ross back to his old ways?

'Hunger Games' Jennifer Lawrence: Catching Fire will get real

‘Catching Fire’ director: Lionsgate eyeing Cronenberg, Cuaron

Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

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