On Monday April 26th, 2021, the day after Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round (Danish Title: Druk) had won the Best International Feature Film Oscar, DEADLINE Hollywood reported that, to the surprise of no one, Hollywood wanted to make another English-language remake of a popular non-American hit. What was surprising, however, was that the English-language remake rights had been acquired by Appian Way, Endeavor Content, and Makeready for the purpose of developing a remake as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio, arguably the biggest movie star on the planet. So, how should we feel about that? Is it an exciting pat on the back, or should we be upset?
Dread them. Run from them. The English-language remakes arrive all the same. Jokes aside, regardless of how you feel about remakes, isn’t it a little bit ridiculous that the dust had barely settled on the 93rd Academy Awards before a bidding war to acquire the remake rights to its Best International Feature Film winner had reached its conclusion? It reminds me a little bit of what happened with Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite last year. The 92nd Academy Awards ceremony hadn’t even started before it was announced that Adam McKay was making an HBO limited series based on the South Korean masterpiece.
Of course, it should be mentioned that, supposedly, the series is more of a spin-off than a remake (even though Tilda Swinton and Mark Ruffalo have supposedly been cast in significant roles). The English-language remake of Another Round (if it even happens) would almost definitely be a reimagining. Because the Danish hit is based on the unique Danish drinking culture. For example, in Denmark, it isn’t against the law for high school students to drink, but in America it very much is.
So, since Another Round is a film about drunk high school teachers who openly discuss drinking habits with students (and, in one scene, one of the teachers even suggests that a student of his has a sip of alcohol while he is in school), pivotal story elements will probably have to change once it is remade in another country (I also highly doubt that Leonardo DiCaprio could dance as impressively as Mads Mikkelsen famously does in Thomas Vinterberg’s Oscar-winning film).
In fact, in my review of Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round, I actually mentioned that this was a film that an American studio probably wouldn’t have made in the first place. I wrote that:
“This is the kind of film that I doubt very much could have been made by an American film studio. Often American films about mid-life crises, alcoholism, and the like tend to reprimand or ridicule its main characters and hamfistedly make moral statements at the end of the film. Druk is also a tragicomedy, and American productions tend to struggle with that balance, often landing squarely in slapstick and trite punchlines. In someone else’s hands, this could’ve been just a silly workplace comedy, but, even though there are certain scenes with a lot of humor at the expense of the main characters, this film treats all of its characters with a dignity that is refreshing. The overwhelming feeling here is that Vinterberg and Lindholm’s script is non-judgmental towards its main characters.”.Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen in his review of Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round.
Nevertheless, once the film became an international success, it was inevitable that the international remake rights would be acquired by some studio. To go even further, in the last few years several Danish films have been looked at as films that you could make an American version of. In 2019, Bart Freundlich made an English-language remake of Susanne Bier’s Danish film After the Wedding, Michael Bay is currently working on an English-language remake of Laurits Munch-Petersen’s Ambulancen, and Jake Gyllenhaal, who is in Bay’s upcoming remake of the aforementioned Munch-Petersen film, will also star in Antoine Fuqua’s upcoming English-language remake of Gustav Möller’s The Guilty.
So, to reiterate, it was almost always inevitable that someone would want to remake this movie, and, ultimately, it appears that some sort of auction or bidding war commenced (hopefully, this landed Vinterberg a huge paycheck). Elizabeth Banks, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s respective companies were all interested in the film rights, and, ultimately, DiCaprio’s side acquired the rights. Like I wrote on Twitter, if this lovely film absolutely must be remade then I can think of no better actor to take over as the main character than Leonardo DiCaprio. I was always worried that an American remake would turn out to be a lazy, broad studio comedy, but I don’t think DiCaprio would be OK with that. Hopefully, DiCaprio actually chooses to star in the English-language remake, if it ever actually gets made, so that the remake can become the great and serious prestige picture that it absolutely ought to be.
I think it is a big deal that people like Antoine Fuqua, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Bay, and Leonardo DiCaprio want to remake Danish films in English. It shows you that the people of the Danish film industry again and again make films that people are impressed and/or moved by. So, from that point of view, it is essentially a pat on the back whenever someone from Hollywood sees something in a foreign film. Although there are definitely several examples of disappointing American remakes, there are also some fantastic American remakes. For example, just look at the incredible Martin Scorsese film The Departed (I would actually be incredibly excited if DiCaprio teamed up with Scorsese to remake Another Round).
The thing that I always worry about, though, is the idea that an American remake of a foreign film could make people forget about the original text, when it should ideally be the film that cineastes seek out first. Also, it shouldn’t be that difficult to overcome subtitles, when hundreds of millions of people (if not billions of people) do that every day with English-language films. Like director Bong Joon-ho once remarked, once you actually do overcome and accept subtitles, you will be met with countless great foreign films.
Again, I will say that if this film must be remade, then a remake starring Leonardo DiCaprio would almost definitely be the best case scenario, so that is what I’m hoping for at this stage. But, hopefully, no matter what happens with this remake, people will still seek out and watch Thomas Vinterberg’s beautiful, intoxicating, and moving original Danish film, Another Round.
– Article Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.