Netflix is developing a sequel to its live-action Death Note anime/manga film adaptation. The first Death Note movie was directed by horror filmmaker Adam Wingard (of You're Next and The Guest fame) and premiered on the streaming service almost exactly a year ago, in late August 2017.
Wingard's Death Note carries over the basic premise of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata's original manga series (in short: boy genius finds notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it, uses it to murder criminals and those he deems "evil"), but otherwise Americanizes its characters and setting. The movie didn't exactly blow critics away upon its debut and was taken to task for whitewashing its source material, among other things. Nevertheless, the film clearly attracted a significant number of viewers on Netflix, as now evidenced by the news that a second live-action Death Note installment is making its way down the pipeline.
In a much larger article concerning Netflix's movie division and their (not entirely clear) growth strategy, THR reports that a Death Note 2 is actively being written by Greg Russo: the relative newcomer who is also working on the script for the developing Resident Evil movie reboot. The article doesn't include any firm data concerning the original Death Note movie's popularity on the streaming service, but reveals that Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos referred to the film as being a "sizable" success on an earnings call back in July. However, there's no word yet on whether Wingard will be back to direct the sequel or passing the job off to someone else.
Between Death Note 2 and the Bright sequel that David Ayer is working on, Netflix has now taken its first steps into the world of movie franchises. The company may even have tentative plans to expand Six Underground - an original action-thriller that Michael Bay is directing and Ryan Reynolds is headlining - into a film series, in the event that it becomes a success with viewers when it hits the streaming service sometime next year. Netflix is also seriously considering making a sequel to its popular rom-com Set It Up and may yet follow suit with the YA romantic comedy To All the Boys I've Loved Before (judging by the film's enthusiastic reception online last week, anyway).
The first Death Note movie likewise ended on a note that left the door open for a sequel, as well as (arguably) some clear room for improvement. Its whitewashing critiques aside, Wingard's film was notably overstuffed with plot and struggled to do justice by its various story and character threads, as a result. A followup that slows down and takes more time to develop its themes and ideas would be an improvement right off the bat. It could even go further and focus on a set of, say, Asian-American characters (as a way of addressing its predecessor's whitewashing controversy), while still carrying over the first movie's best elements (namely, William Dafoe as the Shinigami Ryuk). As always, though, best to wait and see how things play out first, before speculating any further.
We will bring you more details on the Death Note sequel as they become available.