Warner Bros. Pictures’ live-action Akira movie remain firmly stuck in development limbo, but it seems the studio has yet to give up on the project altogether. Meanwhile, movie adaptations of other popular Japanese anime/manga properties – such as Death Note and Ghost in the Shell – are currently making their way down the pipeline and through the Hollywood studio system
Ghost in the Shell, in particular, already has a star in Scarlett Johansson, a director in Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman), and a 2017 release date. Production on the film is expected to begin around the first quarter of 2016 – but first, it will be going through some script revisions, in order to get the screenplay into proper shooting shape before filming gets underway.
THR is reporting that Jonathan Herman has been recruited to overhaul the Ghost in the Shell script, before production starts in New Zealand next year. Herman, as it were, also penned the script draft for this past summer’s critical/commercial hit biopic Straight Outta Compton that earned the project a green-light from Universal Pictures; he also wrote a script draft for the Scarface remake that is slowly, but surely, making its way forward at Universal too.
The initial Ghost in the Shell script was penned by William Wheeler, whose previous screenwriting credits include relatively lesser-known films like The Hoax and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, as well as a few Ray Donavan episodes. Most genre tentpoles like Ghost in the Shell end up having at least two or more credited scribes, so this news isn’t necessarily reason to worry. Perhaps the bigger question here is whether or not Ghost in the Shell will end up being another Sanders project that highlights style over substance – much like (arguably) Snow White and the Huntsman did.
Ghost in the Shell, based on the manga/anime created by Masamune Shirow, will take place in a sci-fi futuristic setting, where an elite task force led by a cyborg agent (Johansson) battles criminal forces. Already, fans of the source comic and animated movie franchise (which has a new installment arriving soon) have taken issue with the change in ethnicity of the protagonist and related, presumed changes to the original property that this live-action movie may include. Those same concerns have been raised by fanbases for all the aforementioned studio-backed anime/manga adaptations in the works, really.
Hence, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Ghost in the Shell. If the movie is a global box office hit then it could open the floodgates for projects like Akira to move forward at last. However, if Ghost in the Shell follows in the footsteps of such films as Speed Racer and Dragonball: Evolution and becomes a financial dud, then Hollywood studios may give up attempting to turn anime/manga series into hit blockbusters… for a while, anyway.
Ghost in the Shell opens in U.S. theaters on March 31st, 2017