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Lee at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
March 23, 1969|
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Residence||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
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.
Lee graduated Walter Johnson High School in 1987. 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.
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.
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. In this same year, Ed Kashiba and Lee developed the company Scriptshark.com, an online method for novice screenwriters to have their scripts assessed and potentially. They later added partner Sean Connolly, and eventually sold the site to iFilm in 2001. iFilm later sold Scriptshark.com to The New York Times. Scriptshark only closed in 2016.
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In the fall of 2001, after setting up 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.
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.
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.
|2002||The Ring||Executive producer||Remake of Ring (1998)|
|2004||The Grudge||Executive producer||Remake of Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)|
|2005||The Ring Two||Executive producer|
|Dark Water||Producer||Remake of Dark Water (2002)|
|2006||Eight Below||Executive producer||Remake of Nankyoku Monogatari (1983)|
|The Lake House||Producer||Remake of Il Mare (2000)|
|The Departed||Executive producer||Remake of Infernal Affairs (2002)|
|The Grudge 2||Executive producer|
|2007||I'm from Rolling Stone||Executive producer|
|The Invasion||Executive producer||Based on the novel The Body Snatchers|
|2008||Assassination of a High School President||Producer|
|The Eye||Executive producer||Remake of The Eye (2002)|
|Shutter||Producer||Remake of Shutter (2004)|
|My Sassy Girl||Executive producer||Remake of My Sassy Girl (2001)|
|The Echo||Producer||Remake of Sigaw (2004)|
|Quarantine||Producer||Remake of REC (2007)|
|2009||Possession||Producer||Remake of Addicted (2002)|
|The Uninvited||Producer||Remake of A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)|
|The Grudge 3||Executive producer|
|2010||How to Train Your Dragon||Co-producer|
|2011||Quarantine 2: Terminal||Producer|
|2012||The Woman in Black||Executive producer|
|2013||Oldboy||Producer||Remake of Oldboy (2003) and second official adaptation of the 1996 manga of the same name.|
|2013–2014||Bates Motel||Executive producer|
|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|
|The Woman in Black: Angel of Death||Executive producer|
|2015||Run All Night||Producer|
|Poltergeist||Producer||Remake version of the 1982 film|
|The Exorcist||Executive producer|
|2017||Sleepless||Producer||Remake of Sleepless Night (2011)|
|The Lego Batman Movie||Producer|
|The Disaster Artist||Executive producer|
|Death Note||Producer||Adaptation of the 2003 manga of the same name.|
|It||Producer||Two-part remake of the 1990 It miniseries and second adaptation of Stephen King's 1986 novel of the same name|
|The Lego Ninjago Movie||Producer|
|2019||The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part||Producer|
|How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World||Co-producer|
|It : Chapter Two||Producer|
- Tad Friend (June 2, 2003). "Remake Man". Letter from California. The New Yorker. Retrieved 2008-09-13.
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