EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher has been tapped to write the screenplay for CJ Entertainment’s English-language remake of Derek Nguyen’s Vietnamese gothic horror pic The Housemaid.
Fletcher, whose screenplay for the Lee Daniels-directed Precious won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2010, will adapt Nguyen’s film, which was originally released in 2016 and was a big hit. The story is set in 1953 Vietnam during the First Indochinese War, and follows an orphaned country girl who is hired to be a housemaid at a haunted French rubber plantation. She unexpectedly falls in love with the French landowner and awakens the vengeful ghost of his dead wife. Like the original, the remake will stick to the same concept, exploring racial and social themes. However, it will take place in the deep South during the Reconstruction Era.
“The opportunity to reimagine this compelling story in the context of American history is incredibly exciting,” said Fletcher. “Collaborating with CJ Entertainment and Motor, an international team of talents, is equally thrilling and this unique project speaks to the creative power of diverse voices. Derek Nguyen’s cinematic fable, produced by Timothy Bui, is perfect for Reconstruction Era reinvention, especially today.”
Nguyen said of the remake: “When writing the original script for The Housemaid, I became aware of the many parallels between the lives of Vietnamese indentured servants during the French colonial period and African American slaves in the American South. It’s an honor to have a celebrated screenwriter such as Geoffrey Fletcher shed light on the horrors of brutal injustice in a new version that will not only entertain but provoke thought.”
CJ Entertainment isn’t a stranger when it comes to adapting some of its most popular films for the global marketplace. In addition to The Housemaid, CJ recently announced English adaptation of the French novel The Vanished and, as Deadline exclusively reported in December, the Korean horror film Hide and Seek.
“One of the main reasons why horror films are performing so well is the polished writing and elevated level of storytelling,” said Francis Chung, VP of Global Co-Productions and Head of U.S. Production at CJ Entertainment. “Knowing the bar has been set so much higher in this category, we recognize the necessity of allowing an extremely gifted writer like Geoffrey Fletcher take the reins to craft a compelling new version of the story. We’re beyond excited to put the story in Geoffrey’s hands and equally excited to be partnering with Don and Tim to bring this new version to a global audience.”
CJ Entertainment is financing, developing and producing the remake. Producers are Don Handfield (The Founder), through his Motor production banner; Timothy Linh Bui (producer of the original) via his Happy Canvas production label; CJ Entertainment’s Tae-sung Jeong; and Francis Chung. CJ Entertainment’s Mike Im is executive producing along with Nguyen.
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.
Fletcher was the first black screenwriter to win an Oscar for writing. He also wrote the forthcoming Trial By Fire, based on The New Yorker article by David Grann, with Ed Zwick directing and Laura Dern and Jack O’Connell starring.
Fletcher is repped by CAA. Nguyen is represented by Andre Des Rochers at Gray Krauss Sandler Des Rochers LLP and Jeffry Melnick at Eighth Square Entertainment.