Comic book adaptations are all the rage in Hollywood right now, but Adam Wingard's upcoming adaptation of Death Note could usher in the era of the manga and anime adaptations. The project has had a rough road to production, but the movie is coming to Netflix next year and Wingard recently said that his adaptation will take a page or two from Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. That is encouraging, being that Batman Returns and The Dark Knight are still two of the finest comic book movies ever made.
Wingard recently did an AMA on Reddit in order to promote his upcoming movie Blair Witch, a sequel to the 1999 found footage movie The Blair Witch Project. During the course of the AMA, a fan asked abou anime adaptations in Hollywood and if big studios will take them seriously. Here is what he had to say.
"I think Anime are due for the same treatment that comics got when Nolan did Batman. I think the key is straying away from overt Anime style like Speed Racer and Dragon Ball and instead try to ground the stories in more relatable ways. With Death Note I tried to give it a gritty lived in look. With that said DEATH NOTE is going to be my most insane movie yet. It makes the Guest look conventional."
While good anime or manga adaptations have almost totally alluded Hollywood at this point, with Wingard citing Speed Racer and Dragonball: Evolution as prime examples of failed attempts, Death Note has been on many studios' radar for a very long time. The project started its road to production back in 2007 when various studios had expressed interest in the property. In 2009 the project found its way to Warner Bros. and in 2011, The Nice Guys and Iron Man 3 director Shane Black got attached to direct the adaptation. Finally, last year Adam Wingard signed on for the movie, but Warner Bros. ditched the project and Netflix came in to save the day. Though there were many other studios that were reportedly interested in picking up the Death Note movie.
The story of Death Note centers on high school student Light Turner, who comes across a supernatural notebook, realizing it holds within it a great power. If the owner inscribes someone's name into it while picturing their face, he or she will die. Intoxicated with his new godlike abilities, the young man begins to kill those he deems unworthy of life.
The fact that Wingard promised that Death Note will be his most insane movie yet is also potentially encouraging, as well as a very bold statement. Both You're Next and The Guest took very overdone concepts, home invasion horror and "a stranger comes to town," and turned them on their heads in very crazy fashion. Also, though it has yet to be released, we have seen Blair Witch and can say that it is most certainly insane in its own right. Something like Death Note needs to be a bit insane to work, given the crazy premise, so it is nice that Wingard and Netflix didn't seem to pull any punches making the movie.
The cast of Death Note includes Nat Wolff as Light Turner, Margaret Qualley as Mia Sutton, Keith Stanfield as L, Paul Nakauchi as Watari, Shea Whigham as James Turner and Willem Dafoe as Ryuk the Shinigami. Death Note was originally a Japanese manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata and has been adapted several times including as a very popular anime series. Netflix has yet to confirm an official release date for the movie, but we will be sure to keep you posted as details become available. In the meantime, you can check out Blair Witch, which comes out on September 16.