Baltasar Kormakur already has a beautiful friendship with Universal, having directed Contraband and 2 Guns for the studio. That mutually beneficial relationship is set to continue, with the news that Kormakur is now set to write and direct true crime drama On The Job.
Based on a real scandal in the Philippines, the film's story sees prison inmates let out on temporary release to perform secret assassinations sanctioned by corrupt politicians. The murders baffled the investigating cops, since the last place they were looking for the killers was in prison. As they get deeper into the murky business, the lawmen find themselves on a direct collision course with the government, who are prepared to be creative to keep the story quiet.
If this all sounds familiar to you, it's because the story has already been told on film: Erik Matti's Filipino version of On the Job made its debut at Cannes this year. Kormakur had apparently already been working on his own version of the extraordinary events, but with Matti beating him to the screen he's cut his losses and headed for remake territory, with Universal picking up the remake rights. Universal's big hitter Scott Stuber (Safe House, Ted) will be producing.
Contraband, of course, was a remake of the Icelandic Reykjavik-Rotterdam (in which Kormakur acted), so this is not new ground for the director. Rather like Luc Besson in France, Kormakur has his own busy production company, RKV Studios, in Iceland, creating home-grown TV and film with a close eye on international possibilities. "You make the best show you can," he says, "but you also make it with the possibility of a remake."
His next English-language project however, is the original Everest, starring Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal and John Hawkes. Shooting starts on that one next month, for a release in December 2014.