CATEGORIES Action, Foreign Language, Thrillers, Casting, Warner Brothers, Remakes and Sequels, CinematicalAnother former child star involved with drugs and crime. But in Zac Efron's case, it's a character he'll be playing in a movie he's producing. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the 17 Again star could be looking at his first franchise since Disney's blockbuster TV-to-theatrical series High School Musical with an English-language remake of the recent Swedish hit Snabba Cash (Easy Money). Warner Bros. has won a bidding war for the rights, and it's likely the project will move ahead quickly or else WB may lose the opportunity altogether due to a "short fuse" clause in the studio's deal with producers.
There's surprisingly no mention of whether Warners or producers Efron, Charles Roven (The Dark Knight), Richard Suckle (The International) and Fredrik Wikstrom (the original Snabba Cash) have also optioned the rights to sequels. Snabba Cash is based on a book by Jens Lapidus, who wrote a follow-up titled Never F*ck Up and has a third installment on the way. In January, when Snabba Cash opened big in Sweden, Variety reported that Wikstrom immediately greenlit two film sequels, to be based on those novels, which will be shot back to back next year.
This news of Snabba's remake is not a shocker at all to me, given that I proposed the idea a few months ago. Here's what I wrote at the time: "This pitch is probably unnecessary given the way Hollywood works. Daniel Espinosa's crime thriller will definitely be remade in English. Not only does it involve easily translated subject matter, but it's got franchise potential ... The novel of Easy Money will reportedly be published in the U.S. later this year, which is another sign it's ripe for remaking here."
I also presumed that when transported to America, Easy Money (which is what film will likely be titled) would be a more generic crime film than the original, which dealt with the comparatively unknown underworld of Stockholm and its Yugoslav mafia. In the remake, Efron will play one of the three central characters, a young country boy who moves to the big city and ends up a runner for a cocaine dealer. The other two characters are a mafia scapegoat who has broken out of prison and a Yugoslav henchman.
The teen idol's involvement may provoke snickers from some, but there's no reason to doubt his potential to become a great actor in adulthood. And given the right filmmaker, this could be more The Departed than Bangkok Dangerous as far as remakes of foreign crime thrillers go.
This will be Sweden's second major export for remaking following The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which is to be helmed by David Fincher and is already set to spawn sequels. To give you an idea of how the original Snabba compares earnings-wise with the original Girl, the former has so far made $7.8 million in three months (second highest gross in Sweden this year, behind Avatar's $22 million), while the latter was the country's top-grosser of last year with $16 million.