Old Boy legal issue won’t affect Hollywood remake, says Japanese publisher

A legal dispute between the publisher of the Japanese manga comic book Old Boy and the South Korean filmmakers who produced a film version of the story should not interfere with plans for a new Hollywood version, says Japanese publisher Futabasha.

On June 15, 2009, Futabasha filed a legal action against Show East, the South Korean production company that produced and distributed a film version of the highly popular comic Old Boy. This suit, filed in Seoul Central District Court, claims that Show East, whose corporate existence is in question, has violated several terms of the agreement with Futabasha and is in breach of contract.

As a separate matter, Futabasha, along with Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, the original author and illustrator of the manga work, fully support plans for an upcoming film adaptation of the original Old Boy material currently planned by Steven Spielberg and Will Smith at DreamWorks.

“We are very excited about this latest Old Boy project,” said Futabasha Board Member Kenji Honda. “Currently, the option rights are held by Universal. The legal action should not affect Universal’s rights or the DreamWorks project in any way. The suit was commenced to protect the rights of Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, as well as to enforce and protect the rights of Futabasha under the contract with Show East.”

The original Old Boy comic was published in 1996 by Futabasha in a Japanese weekly manga compilation. Futabasha later re-released Old Boy as an eight-part manga series between 1997 and 1998. It was published in the United States by Dark Horse Comics in 2006. In 2007, the Dark Horse version was awarded an Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material.

In 2003, the story was adapted into the award winning film Oldboy by South Korean director Park Chan-wook. In speaking to the press about the upcoming project, actor and producer Will Smith has specifically stated that they will be working from the original source material rather than the Park film.

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