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Re-Entering The Ring
In 1998, Japanese director Hideo Nakata's original "Ringu” brought J-horror, or Japanese horror—a distinct style of scary movies that rely more on story and character than on special effects and gore—into the forefront of Asian cinema and pop culture. Based on the Ringu series of novels by Japanese horror writer Koji Suzuki, Nakata's "Ringu” became the highest grossing film in Japanese cinema history and spawned two sequels, one of which, "Ringu 2,” was also directed by Nakata.

Following the international success of "Ringu,” Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald produced the American version, "The Ring,” starring Naomi Watts in the story of a cursed videotape that doomed anyone who watched it to a terrible death in exactly seven days. Opening in fall 2002, the film quickly emerged as a huge sleeper hit, as Americans nationwide discovered the phenomenon that had been sweeping through Asia.

Walter F. Parkes, who again teamed with Laurie MacDonald to produce "The Ring Two,” offers, "In recent years, horror has become the domain of slasher movies, but there was a time when horror was really mainstream in Hollywood, when some of the best directors, writers and actors contributed to the genre through movies like ‘The Exorcist,' ‘The Omen' and ‘Rosemary's Baby.' Our intention with ‘The Ring' was to try to elevate the genre again. Okay, so fade out—the movie is a bigger hit than even we expected it to be, which gave us the opportunity to continue the myth…to tell the next story. Our main goal with the sequel was to give it the legitimacy that the first movie had.”

To achieve that legitimacy, Parkes and MacDonald set out to reassemble the main talent behind "The Ring's” success. Screenwriter Ehren Kruger was brought back to pen the sequel, which also reunited three of the executive producers, Mike Macari, Roy Lee and Michele Weisler. Perhaps most importantly, Naomi Watts, who played Rachel Keller, and young David Dorfman, who had portrayed her son Aidan, were set to reprise their roles.

"I don't think we could have had the first ‘Ring' without Naomi, and we certainly couldn't have done the second one,” Parkes attests. "After more than two years, she picked up the new script and she was immediately this character—this kind of slightly haunted, at times aggressive, vulnerable and yet strong person, who is Rachel. It's something to see.”

Watts acknowledges, "A sequel is a scary thing to enter into because of the comparisons to the first one, which did so well and really resonated within the genre. We want it to deliver and give the audience what they're looking for, but you don't want to repeat the same story. The upside is that you get to carry on with a role that you loved playing the first time around and explore the evolution of the character. So there are a lot of reasons why it's challenging and also quite fun, I think.”

Director Gore Verbinski, who had helmed the first film, was unavailable to return for the sequel, but made his own recommendation for its director. "It was a little bit of kismet,” says MacDonald. "When Gore was unavailable, we asked him who he thought should direct this film and he suggested Hideo. We all thought it was a great idea, but Hideo was attached to another movie and was also unavailable. We initially went with an extremely talented first-time director, but things ultimately did not work out. Then Hideo's other movie did not come together and he suddenly became available, so I believe it was meant to be somehow.”

Parkes notes, "Hideo was someone who could approach this film, not as an assignment or a job, but rather as a continuation of something very real to him. This was the man who literally created the mythology we are trying to explore.”

"Clearly Hideo's original movie was so powerful. Although it was made on a small budget, it had a big vision and a specific sensibility and tone that really inf

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