Script for Malaysian film set for Hollywood remake

THE cameras have yet to start rolling for upcoming local film Terbalik, but this horror thriller has already caught the attention of US-based financier and production company Ivanhoe Pictures, which recently purchased the remake rights to the film.

This was announced by husband-and-wife team of Yasu and Bea Tanaka, the founders and producers of 42nd Pictures Sdn Bhd, at a press conference today (Aug 18) at the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas).

The Tanakas claim that the deal with Ivanhoe Pictures has a "potential value of RM12 million to RM16 million".

Ivanhoe Pictures has previously partnered with a few Asian production companies to produce several notable films including last year's critically-acclaimed Korean horror film The Wailing. The company is currently helping to produce the much-anticipated film adaptation of Singaporean author Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians, part of which is being shot in Malaysia.

The original script for Terbalik was written by Yasu, who will also be directing the Malay-language film starring award-winning actor Bront Palarae. Shooting for the film is slated to start early next year.

The story centres on an actor, played by Bront, who gets in a car accident in the jungle, which has him trapped upside down in the wreckage. He is found by a group of boys, but instead of rescuing him, they decide to torture him and film the act on their cellphones, which they plan to put on the internet.

The dark theme is nothing new for Yasu, who also wrote the script for the psychological thriller Nota (2015), starring Maya Karin and Hans Isaac. The film, which he also directed, nabbed the Best Screenplay award at the 2016 Malaysian Film Festival.

Yasu's original script for Terbalik was then pitched to representatives of Ivanhoe Pictures during the Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing Forum earlier this year.

At the press conference, Bea joked: ""Now, there is pressure on us to produce a better film and we have to make sure the remake cannot be better than the original."

Bea added that she and her husband had been in discussion with Bront for the last two years to play the lead role in Terbalik.

She explained that the actor will be upside down most of the time in the film, and that he is excited to play such a physically-challenging role, as "Bront loves pushing the boundaries when it comes to acting".

Ivanhhoe Pictures CEO and president John Penotti, in a video message played during the press conference, said: "We are delighted to be partnering with 42nd Pictures to remake their film Terbalik. We [also] have just spent a year in Malaysia preparing and [shooting] Crazy Rich Asians, and we had a terrific time in Malaysia.

"Yasu and Bea have become friends and business colleagues, and with the remake of Terbalik, we are going to get an opportunity to continue to work with our Malaysian partners."

The as-yet-untitled remake of Terbalik will reportedly begin shooting late next year, and be distributed in 34 countries.