‘Tell No One’s’ attempt to relay the word to American audiences

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As “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” continues to lock down cast, another U.S. remake of a movie based on an international bestseller quietly looks to find its way.

“Tell No One” -- which began life as an English-language bestseller, then was made into a French-language movie before getting snapped back up by American studios -- has slowly been taking shape. But slowly remains the operative word, as what final form it will take, and whether it will move toward production, remains a question.


Sources tell us that Andrew Dominik, the New Zealand filmmaker [Update: Per the comment below, the New Zealand-born Aussie filmmaker] who wrote and directed “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” has been writing a draft of the script for the English-language version of the thriller.

Dominik has been charged with reworking the story of a doctor who, after believing his wife has been murdered years before (and in fact after being named as a suspect in the case), begins getting mysterious messages suggesting she may still be alive. (Dominik, whose “Ford” also saw an upscale drama wed to a familiar genre, is an interesting choice to write about a mysterious femme: He’s developing the Marilyn Monroe biopic “Blonde”).

Guillaume Canet’s “Tell No One,” the first movie to be made from a novel by bestselling author Harlan Coben, was a big hit in Europe (it won four Cesars in France) and a word-of-mouth hit here, earning $6 million at the U.S. box office two summers ago and landing on numerous end-of-year critics’ lists. (Incidentally, it came to the States from the same distributor that released the Swedish-language “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”)
In the spring of 2009, Focus Features and Miramax Films bought remake rights to “Tell No One,” with Hollywood uber-producer Kathleen Kennedy coming on board to produce. (Just to deepen the “Tattoo”-”Tell No One” connection, Kennedy at one point talked to David Fincher about directing the remake.) The idea was for Focus to handle international rights (everywhere but in France, where Europa Corp, which financed and co-produced the original, would handle). The incarnation of Miramax Films that optioned the rights is no longer in business, so Focus has since taken over the domestic side as well, according to insiders.

But the question remains about how fast the company will move forward; Focus, like all specialty divisions, has been scrutinizing its development slate and business plans.
Back when it was announced, the goal was to have a “Tell No One” shooting this spring and in theaters by next year. The movie was the kind of literate thriller that Miramax was eagerly looking to invest in, the title had brand recognition in the U.S. and foreign-language remakes were an emerging trend, as “Let the Right One In” and others became hot development fodder.

Numerous factors have put the slowdown on it -- and skeptics continue to chirp about the value of redos -- but when it comes to remakes of foreign-language hits, American entities still seek to tell someone.

-- Steven Zeitchik



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