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About The Production
Urban legends: The most enduring are often the most disturbing—stories of murder and mayhem happening to ordinary people that are shared around campfires, retold at slumber parties and spread through chain emails. Some may have started as simple gossip or rumors that, like an old-fashioned game of telephone, were embellished and eventually grew into myth as they passed from person to person. However, there is one terrifying thought about any urban legend…that it may have been born of the truth.

"There is a viral aspect to an urban myth—the way it's told, the way it's repeated, the way it catches on… No one can ever really know the truth that possibly lies behind it. Kôji Suzuki's book Ringu was supposedly based on an urban myth. But it's a ‘chicken and the egg' thing; I don't believe we'll ever know the origins for sure," director Gore Verbinski remarks.

Kôji Suzuki, who wrote the book—actually a series of novels—was once a somewhat obscure writer, but is now referred to as the Stephen King of Japan. Japanese director Hideo Nakata brought the story to the screen in his gothic horror mystery "Ringu," which was released in January 1998. It quickly became a phenomenon, spawning the most successful horror film franchise in the history of the Japanese cinema, as well as a television series, and Manga, a kind of Japanese comic book or graphic novel. Soon after the release of "Ringu," a whole new genre of Japanese films emerged—psycho-horror, or J-horror as it's often called—which exploded into Japan's multiplexes. Whether or not it had its origins in an urban legend, "Ringu" resulted in one that transfixed readers and moviegoers alike in Japan and much of Southeast Asia, and would soon capture the attention of people on the other side of the world.

DreamWorks executive Mark Sourian was the first at the studio to see the movie, and immediately called producers and co-heads of DreamWorks Pictures Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. "Mark said, ‘I've just seen the scariest movie I have ever seen in my life. You have to see it right away,'" Parkes recalls. "Laurie and I cancelled everything and watched the movie on videotape, which, come to think of it, was appropriate for this film. We were both frightened and mesmerized by it, and immediately decided we were going to remake this movie."

MacDonald adds, "We felt from the beginning that it was a strong idea, and the Japanese movie had given us a great template for our movie, not just in the premise, but tonally. Another of the movie's strengths was its wonderfully incongruous marriage of a kind of pop teenage story with a high concept movie that revealed itself in a very surprising way—more mysterious, more evocative, and with underlying emotional issues that you wouldn't necessarily expect from the genre."

"The allure of good thrillers is to get that adrenaline rush, to be on the edge of your seat without actually being in danger. The best ones are equal parts intellectual exercise, emotional exercise and visceral experience. They engage your mind and involve you intellectually, but the payoff is the scare…the scream. I guess that's why as filmmakers, we look for them, and as moviegoers, we can't wait to see them," Parkes comments.

To direct the movie, the first and only person the producers approached was Gore Verbinski, who had made his feature film directorial debut on DreamWorks' offbeat comedy hit "Mouse Hunt." "The main reason we chose Gore was that he is just a consummate visualist," Parkes says. "Having worked with him


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