The widening gap between small-budget and blockbuster films is showing no signs of slowing, meaning film studios everywhere are looking to capitalize on their most nostalgia-inducing properties – and if they happen to be superheroes, their chances of a hit are even higher.
One more childhood hero looks set to join the live-action party, as it was revealed today that Astro Boy, the Japanese manga based on a robot-boy-turned-hero is set to star in his own feature film from Australia-based studio Animal Logic Entertainment.
According to THR, Animal Logic is planning to bring the boy hero into live-action as one of the studio’s first feature films. According to the outlet, the studio will produce internally alongside Japan’s Tezuka Productions (named for Astro Boy creator Osamu Tezuka), and has yet to sign a director. The search for a screenwriter is currently underway.
For the unfamiliar, Astro Boy tells the tale of a brilliant, near-future scientist seeking to construct a militarily-superior robotic boy in the image of his deceased son. The result is Astro, a boy with unbelievable abilities and limitless potential, who soon adopts a mission of heroism to earn the affection of his new ‘father’ as he protects Metro City from all manner of ill-meaning villains.
The story falls close enough in tone and message to more than a few classic superhero tales to make sense, even if Animal Logic may not carry the kind of name recognition some fans might hope. However, the special effects studio has spent the past few years growing substantially, working on high-profile projects like 300, The Great Gatsby, Happy Feet, Legend of the Guardians, Iron Man 3 and The LEGO Movie to name just a few.
Having acquired Fuel VFX – one of the teams behind Prometheus and The Avengers – in 2012, the Australian company has expanded firmly into Hollywood. Astro Boy may seem like a risky bet for one of the company’s first features (with a Betty Boop adaptation also in development), but at this moment, even Popeye is being given a promising reboot. In other words: anything’s possible.
The only real question is how a live-action attempt to create a futuristic, military-grade Pinocchio will go over with audiences. The special effects pedigree promises a visually-pleasing experience, but producer Zareh Nalbandian is clearly aiming high for the robo-hero:
“We’ve seen him as a manga, an anime and an animated movie but we’ve never seen him as a live-action movie or him as a superhero… We want to make it aspirational but not soft… We actually see him in the same league as an Iron Man.”
What do you Astro Boy fans think of its chances as a live-action feature? Does the property seem poised for success given the popularity of superhero films, anime-styled cartoons, and family-friendly films like Big Hero 6? Or do you have your concerns? Sound off in the comments.