CBS Films is in the process of acquiring remake rights to Daniel Monzon's Spanish-language thriller "Cell 211," and Paul Haggis is in talks to write the script with an eye towards directing the project, reports Deadline.
Provided the deal closes, "Cell 211," will easily be the most promising project that CBS Films has been associated with, so kudos to them for recognizing the potential that an English-language remake has and going after a two-time Oscar winner to bring it to the big screen.
The two sides have a brief history together, as CBS Films recently tapped Haggis to write "The Equalizer."
"Cell 211" has been on my radar for years, since the original was first announced in Variety. The film was recently available On Demand but unfortunately I missed it, which is my biggest movie-related regret of 2010, since the film swept the Goya Awards, which are the Spanish equivalent of the Oscars.
The story follows a newly-hired prison guard who decides to come to work a day early and familiarize himself with the facility in order to make a good impression on his bosses. When a brutal riot breaks out, he's knocked unconscious, and when he wakes up, he's forces to pass himself off as one of the inmates, since none of the convicts know that he's supposed to be on the other side of the bars. The guard attempts to quell the riot and escape before the prisoners discover his true identity.
It's a fantastic premise, and while I don't expect Haggis to actually take the director's chair, the idea of him writing the script is an exciting possibility. My enthusiasm would really be off the charts if Haggis considers re-teaming with his "Crash" star Michael Pena, but that may be too-wishful thinking on my part.
Haggis will produce "Cell 211" with Michael Nozik through their company Hwy 61 Films, but the reason I doubt that he'll wind up directing is because his latest movie, "The Next Three Days," is also a prison drama. Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson and Elizabeth Banks star in the film, which Lionsgate will release on Nov. 19.
Haggis is represented by CAA and Intellectual Property Group.