Fresh from the box office triumph of Boo! A Madea Halloween, media mogul and multi-hyphenate Tyler Perry has announced his next inevitable-seeming project: a remake of the Korean film Miss Granny. This 2014 body-switching comedy, a runaway $53.7 million hit in its home country, has already inspired successful remakes in China and Vietnam, with Indonesian and Spanish versions on the way in 2017 and 2018 respectively. International audiences cannot get enough of the story of a sassy, ill-mannered grandmother who suddenly finds her cantankerous soul residing in the body of a 20-year-old woman.
The Korean entertainment conglomerate CJ E&M has partnered with Perry’s 34th Street Films to produce the English-language version of Miss Granny, due for release in 2018 and targeted at the African-American market. A quick glimpse at the Miss Granny trailer shows that CJ E&M definitely chose the right man for the job. This project seems tailor-made for Perry’s unmistakable comic sensibilities.
But don’t come away with the impression that this is all about shenanigans and tomfoolery. In the usual Perry tradition, there are important lessons to be learned here, too. CJ E&M’s statement to the press contends that “the company is very strong at making comedies with family bonds at their core.” Based on his track record of combining slapstick with sermonizing, Perry could be the only major American filmmaker capable of doing justice to Miss Granny.
Meanwhile, the very existence of multiple Miss Granny remakes is evidence that Korean cinema is finally catching the attention of the West. “Major Hollywood studios are paying attention to CJ’s global moves because not even Hollywood studios have tried what we are doing,” says Lim Myung-kyun, head of global business at CJ Entertainment. In that case, the Miss Granny remake could be a test case for further Korean remakes to come.