Given the massive popularity of Naruto as both manga and anime, it was no surprise to see that the property was being made subject to a live-action movie adaptation. After all, it's one of the most successful series ever, pulling in fans around the world through its story of Naruto Uzumaki and leading to multiple cross-media adaptations.
Back in 2015, Lionsgate then confirmed that a live-action Naruto movie was in development. With The Greatest Showman director Michael Gracey on board to direct, things then went a little quiet as work began on the film. Fans of the manga and anime were then left wondering exactly how this adaptation was going to turn out, and whether it would follow in the footsteps of other failed adaptations.
Thankfully, Naruto fans can now get an update on the progress of the film, courtesy of Gracey himself. In an interview with Collider, the director has been able to divulge a little about how the production is going. Although things seem to be moving slowly, at the very least it sounds like it's positive news for those worried that the live-action movie could fail to live up to the original, with Gracey stating he is not sure if Naruto is even going to be his next movie.
Gracey explained why this cautious approach was being taken, and also revealed why he felt it was important to work with Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto on the film. "So many Hollywood adaptations of really popular manga series just don’t get it right," said Gracey, "and for me what was really important was that if I was gonna do Naruto, I wanted to actually work with Kishimoto and get a script to a stage where he would look at it and be excited about realizing it." At the very least, this cautious approach - and the desire to work with the character's creator - should be a good sign for the final film.
So, where does that leave the production as a whole? "We’re still working on the script," said Gracey, explaining that "until that script is at a level that I’m excited about, I have no interest in destroying an amazing franchise, as has happened before." It's a good sign that Naruto does not want to follow down the path of the likes of Death Note and Dragonball: Evolution, and according to Gracey everyone involved in the film is of the same mind. "At this stage, no one is going to go into production until we’ve got a script that excites everyone."
Of course, that's not always a sure-fire success when it comes to manga and anime adaptations. The original director of Ghost in the Shell defended the much-criticized casting of Scarlett Johansson, while the creators of Death Note apparently loved the Netflix movie adaptation, so it's clear that even creator approval doesn't always lead to a great final product. However, hopefully caution when it comes to this production will allow Naruto's live-action adaptation to be a cut above its peers.