As suspected, French major Gaumont has scored a deal for English-language remake rights to South Korean zombie blockbuster Train to Busan, beating out big Hollywood players who were circling the project.
I’m hearing the acquisition wasn’t cheap – in the seven figures–, thanks to a bidding war sparked by the film’s major success on its home turf: The film opened in South Korea on July 22 and generated $38.8M in its first five days of play, an all-time record at the Korean box office. It has amassed a huge $81.3M in the territory to date. Well Go USA distributed the original title in the US on a limited release, which earned it $1.8M in the territory.
Danny Lee and Vincent Kim at Contents Panda, in charge of international sales and distribution of Train to Busan, negotiated the deal with Cecile Gaget, Head of International Production and Distribution, on behalf of Gaumont.
Gaumont was actively pitching the title to buyers in Toronto earlier this year but Lee and Gaumont told Deadline no deal had been signed at the time.
The apocalyptic thriller, directed by Yeon Sang-ho, sees a group of terrified train passengers battle their way through a countrywide viral outbreak on a suspicion-filled, blood-drenched bullet train ride to Busan, a safe zone that has managed to hold off the hordes of zombies, if it even still exists.
Seoul-based Next Entertainment World produce the title, which is being sold by it’s international rights division, Contents Panda.
It’s a major coup for Gaumont, who are adding the project to its English-language slate that it’s setting up for buyers. French interest in Train to Busan was high, given the fact that bullet trains are a common form of transport in the country. Canal Plus’ film division Studiocanal has already tapped into the premise having recently fully-financed upcoming train suspense thriller The Commuter, starring Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson. It’s directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, Non-Stop) and produced by The Picture Company’s Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman.