by BK Munn
The new Cold War between Hollywood and North Korea has another casualty: the film adaptation of Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang graphic travelogue which was to star Steve Carrell has been put on the shelf. As Delisle wrote on his blog earlier today, the film, which had been in development for two years, was unceremoniously cancelled amid fears of reprisals from North Korea.
According to Delisle, the rights were sold two years ago but he did not have any involvement with the production until earlier this month, not even knowing if it was planned as an animated feature or live action, and learning of developments through the internet until contacted by director Gore Verbinski about filming being scheduled for this coming March in Serbia.
Now he has learned that it is just not going to happen.
The book, a true-life account of Delisle’s time in the capital of North Korea teaching animation, ironically had a brush with censorship when Delisle’s French employers tried to prevent the creation of a comic about his experience, claiming a previously-existing non-disclosure clause in his employment contract. The original publisher of the book, l’Association, took the brave stand to continue despite these legal threats.
Now, in the wake of the purported North Korean hack of Sony’s website and email and threats of terrorist attack spurred by the release of the Sony comedy The Interview, about the fictional assassination of Kim Jong-un, it seems that any other North Korean-themed movies are also under the gun.
The Pyongyang film, produced by Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean, Rango, The Lone Ranger), his production company, and New Regency films, had a script by Steve Conrad (Secret Life of Walter Mitty), and was to be distributed by Fox.
Delisle, who was born in Quebec but has spent much of his career in France, is published in English by Drawn and Quarterly.
(You can read Delisle’s original blog post here, and a Google translation here.)