Local filmmakers Gerard Johnstone & Luke Sharpe have made a deal with New Line Cinema to remake their horror-comedy hit ‘Housebound’ in the United States.
While the film was only modestly successful at home, Housebound gained international recognition since its debut at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival last March, winning key film festivals, topping video on demand (VOD) charts in North America and garnering rave reviews, most notably from another kiwi filmmaker by the name of Sir Peter Jackson.
Written & directed by Johnstone and produced by Sharpe, Housebound tells the story of a rebellious young woman who is sentenced to home detention and forced to put up with her babbling mother, repressed stepfather and a tormented spirit that’s less than happy about the new living arrangement.
The film came to Jackson’s attention via executive producer Ant Timpson, who met Johnstone & Sharpe through his 48 hour filmmaking competition, which Jackson also sponsors. “Peter was pretty excited to see such an accomplished local genre film coming out of nowhere and in a nice touch of serendipity, his original title for Braindead was in fact Housebound. So once he got behind the film in terms of endorsement, numerous doors opened up for Gerard. It only took him 10 years after winning the first 48HOURS to deliver a feature but the wait was worth it. It’s rather poetic how it has all worked out.
Sharpe and Johnstone will serve as executive producers on the remake. “It’s amazing to find ourselves in this position” says Sharpe. “For the format to now be picked up by a major Hollywood studio with such great pedigree in the genre, is just incredible.”
The original film was produced through the NZ Film Commission’s Escalator scheme for a mere $250,000. Johnstone has no qualms about his story getting a big budget makeover. “This is awesome for a number of reasons. I’m incredibly proud of the movie we made, but I’m curious to see what someone could do with a bit more cash,” says Johnstone. “I know some fans of the original will have concerns about a remake, but it’s not like it erases the original film from existence. It’s still available for anyone who wants to watch it – for $24.99 at all good retailers.”
The original film was released in theatres and on demand in the US in October through XLrator media. The Village Voice labelled it ‘The best new horror movie on demand’, while Variety called it ‘near flawless’ and ‘marvellously entertaining’.
In addition to numerous film projects they have in development, the pair are currently shooting a revamp of the hit local comic book Terry Teo for TV2 through their company Semi-Professional Pictures.