Roy Lee

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For the baseball player, see Roy Lee (baseball). For the Alberta politician, see Roy S. Lee. For the American judge, see Roy Noble Lee.
Roy Lee
Born (1969-03-23) March 23, 1969 (age 47)
Brooklyn, New York, US
Occupation Film producer
Years active 2002–present

Roy Lee (born March 23, 1969) is an American film producer who regularly remakes well-known Asian films for American audiences. Examples include, The Ring and The Grudge. Vertigo Entertainment, Lee's production company in Beverly Hills, California, has a first-look deal with Warner Bros. Pictures.

Early life[edit]

Lee was born in 1969 at Wyckoff Heights Hospital, in Brooklyn, New York, to Korean parents. His father, a doctor, and his mother, had been in America for just three years and were still acclimating. Lee’s mother, a devout Christian, nurtured hopes that he would become a minister.[1]

Lee graduated Walter Johnson High School in 1987.[citation needed] During his undergraduate studies at George Washington University, Lee interned at the law firm Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson. After graduating GWU, Lee attended law school at American University Washington College of Law where he prepared for a career in corporate law.


In 1996, after graduating law school at American University and working at Fried Frank for eight months, he moved to Los Angeles and worked as a “tracker” at a production company called Alphaville. Trackers monitor spec material and dealmaking. At the time, trackers shared information over the phone, constantly updating each other in an endless cycle of calls.

Online tracking[edit]

One of Lee's "tracker" friends, Polly Cohen Johnsen, had been updating the story department at Jersey Films and had the idea to put their tracking group online. Lee joined forces with Johnsen and Glenn Gregory of Propaganda Films to convert their daily phone calls into an online tracking group. In 1997 Lee set up an Internet bulletin board called Tracker for twenty of his friends, who rated scripts and posted pertinent tracker information for each.

Within six months, Lee had established twenty-five online groups for other trackers at production companies and studios in Hollywood. Since he was the only member who belonged to every group, he had the best information. Lee’s project changed the spec script market forever. While spec scripts and pitches continued to sell, weaker material was dismissed more quickly, often within a single day, to the frustration of many agents. Online tracking accelerated the market, brought more honesty, allowed development execs to sift for material more effectively and put more pressure on agents and producers to represent better material.[1]

In 1999, Lee went to work with BenderSpink, a talent-management company owned by two of his friends, Chris Bender and JC Spink. He was charged with finding Internet content: short films that would play on personal computers.[1] With Ed Kashiba Lee created Scriptshark, an online method for novice screenwriters to have their scripts assessed and potentially. Lee sold this site to iFilm which later sold it to The New York Times.

Vertigo Entertainment[edit]

Main article: Vertigo Entertainment

In the fall of 2001, after film projects at all the major studios, Lee left BenderSpink and joined Doug Davison to create Vertigo Entertainment. When working on a project together, Lee did the selling and Davison handled the follow-up work. Lee noted that in the beginning, the hardest thing was making contacts abroad.[1]

Lee's approach to making deals involved explaining to Asian distributors that their films would probably not sell in America because of their subtitles and that they would make more money by selling remake rights. Then he assured the rights holder that he would protect them by representing them for free (the American studio would pay his fee when the film was made). Once Lee had secured the right to negotiate for an Asian company, he told the studios to regard the film as a script that someone had taken the trouble to film, and that had been tested and proved a hit in its home country.[1]

Lee earned his first motion picture producing credit on Gore Verbinski’s 2002 blockbuster The Ring. He went on to produce the 2004 haunted house horror film The Grudge, which starred Sarah Michelle Gellar and was based on the 2002 Japanese film Ju-on: The Grudge, which was directed by Takashi Shimizu. The box office hit held the record for biggest horror opening weekend following its October 2004 release.

The Grudge 2 was released in October 2006, starring Amber Tamblyn and Gellar, and directed by Shimizu. It topped the box office at $22 million on its opening weekend. Also in October 2006, The Departed, a crime thriller from Warner Bros., directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson, was released, grossing $27 million in its opening weekend. It was Scorsese’s biggest opening ever. The Departed later went on to win Best Picture at the 79th Academy Awards.

He worked as executive producer of the Uruguay short film Ataque de Pánico! alongside Doug Davison.[2]


Year Film Role Notes
2002 The Ring Executive producer Remake of Ring
2004 The Grudge Executive producer Remake of Ju-on: The Grudge
2005 The Ring Two Executive producer
Dark Water Executive producer Remake of Dark Water (2002)
2006 Eight Below Executive producer Remake of Nankyoku Monogatari
The Lake House Executive producer Remake of Il Mare
The Departed Executive producer Remake of Infernal Affairs
The Grudge 2 Executive producer
2007 The Invasion Executive producer Based on the novel The Body Snatchers
The Strangers Producer
2008 My Sassy Girl Producer Remake of My Sassy Girl (2001)
Shutter Producer Remake of Shutter (2004)
Quarantine Producer Remake of REC
The Eye Executive producer Remake of The Eye (2002)
The Echo Producer Remake of Sigaw (2004)
2009 The Uninvited Producer Remake of A Tale of Two Sisters
Assassination of a High School President Producer
The Grudge 3 Executive producer
2010 How to Train Your Dragon Co-producer
2011 The Roommate Producer
Abduction Producer
Quarantine 2: Terminal Producer
2012 The Woman in Black Executive producer
2013 Oldboy Producer Remake of Oldboy
Bates Motel Executive producer
2014 The Lego Movie Producer
Godzilla Producer Producer during pre-production; Legendary Pictures fired Lee and Dan Lin, with case to be settled in court.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 Co-producer
2015 The Voices Producer
Run All Night Producer
Poltergeist Producer Remake version of the 1982 film
Hidden Producer
2016 The Boy Producer
Blair Witch Producer
2017 The Lego Batman Movie Producer
The Lego Ninjago Movie Producer
Death Note Producer Post-Production, Adaptation of the 2003 Japanese Manga of the same name
It Producer Two-part remake of Stephen King's 1990 It miniseries and second adaptation of King's 1986 novel of the same name
2019 The Lego Movie Sequel Producer
Minecraft: The Movie Producer Announced
TBA Archie Producer
Adventure Time Producer Development
Five Nights at Freddy's Producer Announced


  1. ^ a b c d e Tad Friend (June 2, 2003). "Remake Man". Letter from California. The New Yorker. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  2. ^ "Sam Raimi Mentors Fede Alvarez for Alien Invasion". 

External links[edit]