Director Matthew Gratzner and special-effects guru Jules Urbach have been in the throws of bringing to life a key member of the 1970s Japanese anime series Shogun Warriors for a new feature film.
Gratzner and Urbach unveiled an awesome-looking teaser trailer for Gaiking at the 2010 Tokyo Animation Fair in March. The scene is reminiscent of the recent War of the Worlds film – with the massive robot Gaiking rising from beneath a city street.
It looks like a pretty impressive ride, but the makers of Gaiking the movie just need someone to hop into the driver’s seat and thrash out a script.
Urbach has told The Hollywood Reporter that he and Gratzner just need a screenwriter – so they can expand the existing treatment.
“I guess you can say we’re in pre-production. The reason we released the teaser when we did is we’re done designing the robot. We basically put as much as was ready to be shown in the teaser. And the next step is get a writer — we have a treatment for the movie — and get a full-blown script. That should be done in the next three months.”
The Shogun Warriors are a group of super robots, headed by Gaiking (the ‘Demon Dragon of the Heavens’), who were built by scientists here on Earth to help ward off an invading alien race known as the Dark Horror Army from planet Zela. Think Transformers but with humans in the cockpits.
The Toei Animation series ran for almost a year on Japanese TV (44 episodes from April 1976 to January 1977). Shogun Warriors gained a cult following in the United States and enjoyed its own toyline from Mattel as well as a Marvel comic book series.
The live-action Gaiking film was born out of a seven-minute short Gratzner and Urbach intended to show with David Fincher’s Heavy Metal remake.
The trailer, and proposed film, use Lightstage, a state-of-the-art scanning technology developed by Urbach. A technology that Fincher used in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Oscar-winning technology.
“But Heavy Metal, it was at Paramount at one point, it was at another studio, then Cameron got involved, and it lost its home. We ended up taking Gaiking and just worked on it and worked on it, and it kept building and building … And at some point, Toei said, ‘Wait a minute, you guys can do a whole movie now at this quality’. They backed us and then other people came on board and we were able to turn this into a pretty big film.”
While those unfamiliar with Gaiking, and there’s probably a lot of you (particularly outside of Japan), will undoubtedly liken the franchise to recent box-office sensation Transformers – Urbach believes there is enough in the Shogun Warriors universe to differentiate them from the Autobots.
“Gaiking and those kinds of robots, you’re talking about giant robots that are piloted by humans. You’re not talking about Transformers, where they are their own characters. These robots are the extension of the pilots; they are really like giant suits of armor. So it’s really the people inside them that are the characters. That is a huge differentiator. Gaiking is one pilot. It’s really the pilot expressing himself through this giant mecha.”
Urbach expects Gaiking to hit screens in late 2012 or early 2013, with the potential of introducing the rest of the Shogun Warriors gang in possible future films:
“We wanted to introduce one robot and thought it should be the focus of the film. It’s like you want to introduce Superman before you introduce the Justice League, right?”
So what do we think? Look impressive enough? Or are we all roboted out after two servings of Transformers?
Source: The Hollywood Reporter