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‘Night of the Hunter’ Remake in the Works at Universal With Contemporary Spin

Charles Laughton's 1955 drama is a touchstone of the serial killer genre.

Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by United Artists/Kobal/Shutterstock (5884016c)Shelley Winters, Robert MitchumThe Night Of The Hunter - 1955Director: Charles LaughtonUnited ArtistsUSAScene StillMystery/SuspenseLa Nuit du chasseur

“The Night Of The Hunter”

United Artists/Kobal/Shutterstock

Charles Laughton’s iconic 1955 serial killer thriller “Night of the Hunter” is getting a remake from Universal Pictures. The news was first reported by Variety. The studio has tapped “Operation Finale” screenwriter Matt Orton to pen the script, which is believed to be a contemporary reimagining of the storyline and not a period piece. Amy Pascal is producing the project through her production banner Pascal Pictures. Additional producers include Peter Gethers and Jay Polidoro, the latter of whom is Universal’s senior vice president of production. Pascal recently had a major hit with Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women,” which grossed over $200 million worldwide and picked up Oscar nominations for Best Picture and more. Universal is coming off box office success for genre title “The Invisible Man.”

The first iteration of “Night of the Hunter” was Davis Grubb’s 1953 novel of the same name. Film critic turned screenwriter James Agee adapted the book into Laughton’s 1955 film adaptation, which is one of the most acclaimed thriller films ever made. The 1955 film starred Robert Mitchum as a former minister who becomes a serial killer and attempts to con the widow of his latest kill into giving him the location of her dead husband’s hidden money. The original cast included Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, and Billy Chapin.

Remaking “Night of the Hunter” is bound to be a controversial decision given the lofty reputation of Laughton’s 1955 movie. The title is a favorite among world-renowned directors such as Guillermo del Toro, who once said Laughton’s direction was so dark and so beautiful that it “truly made me weep in awe.” David Gordon Green, who directed Universal’s most recent “Halloween” and is behind the camera for sequels “Halloween Kills” and “Halloween Ends,” has called “Night of the Hunter” his favorite horror film of all time.

“’Night of the Hunter’ is the film from my youth that really opened the door,” Green said back in October 2018. “That was a stepping stone into the more gratuitous genre horror. I guess you’d probably call it more of a thriller, but that was a movie that really affected me in terms of everything from the music and songs Robert Mitchum’s character would sing, and Charles Laughton’s amazing camerawork. It got under my skin, it really disturbed me as a kid, and then I used that as a stepping stone into more obvious genre work.”

Universal has not yet announced a director or a cast for its “Night of the Hunter” remake. IndieWire’s Anne Thompson has already made her pick for an actor to take on Mitchum’s role: Tom Hardy. Visit Variety’s website for more first details on the “Hunter” remake.

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