Quebec comedy 'Starbuck' spawns U.S. remake

TORONTO - Quebec's fertility comedy "Starbuck" has spawned a Hollywood makeover.

Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Studios is revamping the francophone film with a new script that would set the action in New York and play to a broad U.S. audience, says "Starbuck" producer Andre Rouleau.

But fans of the original need not be worried. Rouleau says Spielberg loved the film so much that he's bringing original writer-director Ken Scott on board to helm the remake.

"It's fantastic news, we're so happy," Rouleau said Tuesday from Montreal.

"We believe that we've found just the perfect partners, the best partner in the world to do it."

Rouleau, who is also producing the remake, says the deal came together after Spielberg watched the film last month and was enthralled by the story.

"Starbuck" centres on a middle-aged man whose life is turned upside down when he learns he fathered 533 children through sperm donation.

Rouleau says it's highly unusual for a U.S. studio to allow a film's original creative team to also helm a remake.

"As soon as we started discussing the project with them they were absolutely and very respectful of the work Ken did and it was so easy to make a deal with them," he says.

"They really, really liked the original script, the original film and of course we're going to do changes but everything will be done respectfully."

DreamWorks says casting has begun but no details were revealed.

"We were completely charmed by the story in 'Starbuck' and saw the potential for a commercial remake with universal appeal," Stacey Snider, co-chair and CEO of DreamWorks Studios, said in a release.

"We are excited to be working with the original filmmaking team of Ken Scott and André Rouleau and look forward to our collaboration on this film."

The original "Starbuck" was released in Canada last summer and collected several awards on the festival circuit. That included audience prizes at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the Sonoma International Film Festival.

That film, co-written by Martin Petit, was set in Montreal and starred Patrick Huard as the inadvertent dad, David Wozniak.

Rouleau said the U.S. remake would require a big-name star who could convey a range of emotions.

"He's in every scene, so we need an actor that can ... make you laugh but he make you cry."

Hollywood's take on "Starbuck" will not be the only one.

Rouleau said a Bollywood version is planned by Toronto producer Ajay Virmani, complete with elaborate song and dance numbers.

And another remake deal has been struck in France, but Rouleau said he wasn't aware of production plans there.

Rouleau says he's not surprised "Starbuck" has resonated deeply around the world.

"In 'Starbuck' you are going to laugh but you are crying also. It's a real story, it's an intelligent comedy so of course, like in life you have good times and bad times, that's what the film is about. And I think people are ready for those type of stories."

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