EXCLUSIVE: Snowpiercer producer CJ Entertainment is to develop a feature film based on French book The Vanished after optioning the remake rights.

Korean firm CJ Entertainment is to develop, finance and produce the Japanese-language adaptation, based on a non-fiction book by journalist Léna Mauger and photographer Stéphane Remael.

It will tell the true story of over 100,000 people who disappear in Japan without a trace.

The phenomenon is known locally as ‘johatsu’, or ‘evaporated’, which sees people, often driven by shame and hopelessness, leaving behind jobs, disappointed families and mounting debts.

Mauger and Remael have traced stories including a Tokyo neighborhood so notorious for its petty criminal activities that it was erased from the maps, camps that can help businessmen become better employees and the “suicide” cliffs of Tojinbo.

The book was originally published in France in 2014 through Les Arènes with an English translation published in 2016 through Skyhorse Publishing and in Korean through Chaek-Se-Sang Publishing.

It is the second French book that the Korean producer has optioned after turning French graphic novel Le Transperceneige into Snowpiercer, the 2013 Bong Joon Ho-directed film that starred Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton and Ed Harris.

The move comes as CJ Entertainment recently unveiled plans to produce and release a minimum of 20 local films overseas in more than 10 languages annually by 2020.

CJ Entertainment Chief Executive Tae-sung Jeong and Head Of International Film Production Francis Chung will produce with Head of International Mike Im exec producing. Fred Lee, CJ Entertainment’s Los Angeles-based Director of Development and Jihyun Ok, CJ’s Seoul-based Director of Development will oversee development of the project.

Skyhorse Publishing

“Often, during our investigation, reality has gone beyond fiction. We were struck by the cinematic potential of the testimonials and we think that the CJ team will have the talent to bring their strength to the screen,” said Mauger.

Chung added: “We are thrilled to be adapting this enthralling world, captured so vividly by Léna and Stéphane in The Vanished. We were immediately drawn in by the universality of the themes and believe wholeheartedly that a feature film can translate these in a powerful new experience for audiences.”