Dreamworks Producing Live-Action ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Adaptation

Published 1 year ago by

Ghost In The Shell 2 Innocence Dreamworks Producing Live Action Ghost in the Shell Adaptation

Years have passed (literally) since anyone’s talked about re-adapting Masamune Shirow’s landmark manga-cum-anime Ghost in the Shell. First conceived on the page by Shirow in 1989, brought to the big screen in 1995, and sequelized in 2004 (by legendary Japanese filmmaker Mamoru Oshii), the Ghost in the Shell franchise has largely survived as a television property in the intervening decade, as seen in early aughts TV show Standalone Complex and, much more recently, OVA series Arise.

This makes recent developments over a new Ghost in the Shell film potentially very exciting. It turns out that there’s been movement on bringing Shirow’s creation back to theaters with a new update on his original work; Dreamworks, the studio that initially released the truly excellent movie sequel Ghost in the Shell: Innocence ten years ago still owns the rights, and they’re intent on pushing ahead with another interpretation of Shirow’s manga, this time through a live-action rather than animated lens.

According to Deadline, who broke the news earlier today, Dreamworks even has a name lined up for the director’s chair: Rupert Sanders, of Snow White and the Huntsman notoriety. Sanders will be working from a script penned by writer William Wheeler, lately responsible for authoring the screenplay of political thriller The Reluctant Fundamentalist. 

These are two of the most fundamental building blocks of the filmmaking process; if Dreamworks already has a script lined up and a helmsman ready to take the reigns, then they’re probably pretty serious about getting the film made.

But will the choice of Sanders satisfy those loyal to Shirow’s and Oshii’s respective creative contributions to the Ghost in the Shell brand, or will his association with Snow White and the Huntsman simply disappoint fans?

rupert sanders 90 church Dreamworks Producing Live Action Ghost in the Shell Adaptation

Ghost in the Shell is a far cry from the fantasy fare of Sanders’ Snow White riff; set in the future, Shirow’s story revolves around Security Section 9, a special ops police force tasked with combating cyber-crime in a world where people commonly interface with personal technology implanted directly into their brains. Quite different from the sword and sorcery trappings of Sanders’ debut.

At this point, Sanders remains an unproven filmmaking quantity; one movie, particularly one so lackluster as Snow White and the Huntsman, is a very small sample size to determine a director’s skill behind the camera. But clearly Hollywood sees something in him, as he’s attached to direct on no fewer than three other distinct projects; he’s all set for Universal’s Napoleon biopic, true crime saga 90 Church, and an adaptation of British author Frederick Forsyth’s novel The Kill List.

So Sanders has a pretty full plate as it is. Maybe it would behoove Dreamworks to call on someone who’s both more established and more available to call the shots on set for their film, though; Sanders, whatever anyone thinks of his directorial efforts, seems like a shaky pick if only for the sake of how busy he’s becoming as his involvement with Snow White and the Huntsman finally starts to pay off for him.

As a result, this turn of events feels like something of a mixed blessing. It’s invigorating to see Dreamworks get the gears turning on their Ghost in the Shell production, but Sanders isn’t an especially inspired pick for the material.

There’s a question as to whether a new interpretation of Shirow’s graphic novel is even necessary in the first place, as with most studio-driven live-action anime pictures (notably Warner Bros.’ Akira remake, which received a production start date months ago). Ghost in the Shell, no matter what incarnation you enjoy it in, is great as it is. What’s to be gained from making a Hollywood version of the same narrative?

For the time being, though, this looks like it’s happening whether fans approve or not. We’ll just have to sit back and wait to see if the whole thing actually comes to fruition, and what it looks like when it finally takes shape.


We’ll keep you posted on Ghost in the Shell updates as they become available.

Source: Deadline

Follow Andy Crump on Twitter @agracru
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  1. I am worried about an Americanization of any adaption, but it is possible for an American studio to avoid this, but they would have to do things a lot differently than they normally do. They need it to be a ‘game changer’, like Blade Runner and The Matrix were, otherwise they shouldn’t try it at all. Because like Akira, GITS was a ‘game changer’ for anime, so I agree with the comment above that it requires a vision, and not just a cash in. A pity Kubrick is no longer around. It shouldn’t mean it needs a huge budget either, as FX are a lot easier these days, and a minimalist use of them is what this movie should emulate, as the technology in that universe is so ubiquitous and integrated, it is almost invisible. It is the tone and atmosphere that makes GITS special. The emphasis needs to be on imagery that has a certain ‘stillness’ to it, and that is strongly associated with the music. This should be true even in action scenes. I don’t know if the Yanks can deal with that. The movie needs to be set in an Asian city, in a post WWIII scenario, where Americans are seen as foreigners, which they could also find hard to do. If it was set in the US, they would end up with too much baggage when it comes to dealing with the political intrigue. You’d just end up with ‘goodies and baddies’ again, instead of the ambiguity needed. A flooded Hong Kong, like the first anime would be fine, but an entirely fictional city and country couldbe used. Characters could be any ethnicity to a point. Batou obviously seems caucasian, but Motiko would perhaps be more likely asian, or eurasian, or totally ambiguous, since she’s a cyborg. It would be good if they looked at the Swedish TV series Real Humans, to show how acting and a little makeup can achieve a lot more than FX. They could note its minimal style and imagery too.All in all, if they try to make a summer blockbuster, they will fail. If they stay true to the philoosophy, and even get an R rating for violence or nudity, then so be it, if they need it to maintain integrity. They can play with the story all they want, like they could ‘visit’ America, or show background of the war, or their lives, but there still should be strong connections to original plots from any of the manga or anime. If they can achieve these things, they won’t have a typical ‘mass appeal’ movie. That’s why Hollywood probably can’t do it. But if they did do it, instead of their increasingly common formulaic trash, they would have a movie, like Bladerunner, that people still rave about decades later, and change the way subsequent movies are done. Let’s hope they have the courage to try.

    • I was just thinking about Ridley Scott and Blade Runner just before I read your post.

  2. Americans making a japanese anime live action
    best idea ever gonna make massive dosh
    no just no this is a cash in nothing more, will not make any attempt to watch and as a fan of gits i find this disgusting and have no hope whatsoever of this production being of any quality.

    • agreed. i will not watch it either. we should boycott it.

      • but what if by some miracle it is amazing,then you will miss out

  3. dear Hong Kong producers please make ghost in the shell movie first. well in all reality if they do make it in the states I hope they take their time and do it right I would rather wait an extra couple years than have a crappy quick movie. I would prefer a live action series over a movie.

    • how many years have they had?

  4. Nothing is sacred, is it?

  5. do not ruin ghost in the shell dreamworks… you cannot do this …i repeat DO NOT RUIN ONE OF THE BEST MANGA/ANIMES OF ALL TIME… i will be boycotting this movie if you attempt it.

    • Well, it may not be as bad as you think, Innocence wasn’t that bad and while it was animated, the same production studio worked on it.

  6. Jay from ActiveWirehead.com tried to find 5 alternatives:


    What are your picks for an alternative Motoko Kusanagi?


  7. For however version of the final script is, I just hope the director here stays true to the material of the series.

  8. First off, most American Director are usually not Anime Fan. Second they rewrite the whole script that changes or they add their own personal touch to it, have nothing to do with the original script. Good example is the Latest Godzilla It looks Fat (my friend said it’s muscular) or another one is Blood the Last Vampire, again they Botched that one up. Third Momoko Kusanagi is Japanese not an American as with Section 9-again Not American. And Akira, well it’s gonna be Snafu more likely. Scarlett Johansson Excellent Actress, they should have a Japanese or an Asian actress to play the part though, but that won’t happen because were still basing everything on the Color of your Skin or Ethnicity. Anytime Hollywoood do an adaptation of Anime or Video Games into a Live action Movie it’s gonna be CF(Military Terminology for screw-up). Raiden from Mortal Combat a Shinto God of Thunder-Japanese. Here one for you Who Trained the Japanese Imperial Army? It sure wasn’t the American as it was depicted in the Last Samurai. It was French Advisor from 1872 to 1880, 1884 to 1889, then the German from 1886 to 1890. Other advisor include an Italian Major who worked at the Osaka Foundry, a Dutch Captain who worked on improving Coastal Defense, and again the French from 1918 to 1919. The only thing America did was supply weapons and munition and Not the Modernization of the Japanese Imperial Army.

  9. Sweet God please save us from this abomination that is soon to fall upon us. This will be garbage. Pure and utter garbage for SO many reasons.

    1) It will be terribly made.
    Any movie like this ends up with terrible production values always. The only exception I can think of was the recent Edge of Tomorrow which was actually an amazing movie and despite that still failed in US box offices (thank God it was appreciated fully over seas).

    2) It will make no money.
    Fans will avoid this like the plague knowing it will be trash. People who don’t know what GitS is will think it’s just some rip off of the Matrix (which I am sure the director will try to copy in some hack-job) and just not care about it.

    This needs to never ever ever happen.

  10. The anime film is distinctly anime in feeling(Dont ask me how to describe it) but if a western group tries to create a ive acton movie it will stuff up badly and the fact that they mignt not get asian actors is also slightly conserning i will watch it but i have low expectations for it straight up, the animated movies in themselves are fine but ghost in the shell is a popular series and will piss off alot of people if ficked up which it probly will.

  11. While I’m a fan of Ghost in the Shell, I am really worried about the director the live action version, this director is not established, his claim to fame was by cheating on his wife, and his last movie Snowhite and the Huntsmen was so so at best. Now to show off the effects of Ghost in a live action version unless the basic character story is going to be dumped down the final version is going to have to be in 3D and the budget for the film has be well north of a $150 million to make this thing work, which I don’t think this director has enough seasoning to make this film how it should be made, now unless he has seen the series over and over again plus reading the comics watching all of the movies and even seeing Arise I got my doubts if this person can pull it off. As much as I would like to see this work, a possible bomb is going to be made because the director in this case doesn’t fully understand the nature of this material.

  12. I hate this man, more than everything in the world, he made just a s*** decision and i hope he dies before this finishes, hes just gong to ruin the best sci fi anime production. hope he dies, i like scarlett but she is not good for motoko. DIE SANDERS DIE SANDERS

  13. not a fan of this… on any level… why do people feel the need to re adapt something that is already perfect and timeless.

    it won’t be a good film… i have seen a lot of failed live action anime. and it is close to a zero percent chance that fans of this universe are going to enjoy this if it is made.