Hollywood version of 'Death Note' making progress, with Adam Wingard as new director

By Kay, RocketNews24

Followers of Japanese manga and anime will no doubt be aware that "Death Note" has been a highly successful franchise. The story has been made into a series of movies that were big hits here in Japan as well as a musical that was performed at the Nissei Theater in Tokyo last month, and there’s also a TV drama scheduled for broadcast in July this year.

But that’s not all. We still have the Hollywood live action film of "Death Note" to look forward to, and the recent news is that the movie now has a new director.

Fans of the "Death Note' series should be glad to hear that the long-awaited Hollywood film version will now be directed by Adam Wingard, known as the director of scream-worthy cult horror flicks such as "The Guest" and "You’re Next." It’s already been seven years since we first started hearing about a Hollywood adaptation of "Death Note," with the prospective director changing several times during that period from Shane Black ("Iron Man 3") to Gus Van Sant ("Good Will Hunting") and now to Wingard, so hopefully the announcement means the project is making progress.

We still may have to wait a little while longer for the finished movie, though, as Wingard will apparently be directing another film, "The Woods," before starting work on "Death Note."

For those of you unfamiliar with the series, "Death Note," originally written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, is the story of student prodigy Light Yagami, who quite by accident stumbles upon a notebook belonging to a Death God. The supernatural notebook allows its owner to kill anyone by simply writing the person’s name in it, and eventually Light becomes obsessed with using the notebook to rid the world of evil and become its new ruler. With its stunning artwork and unique (if at times controversial) storyline, the manga and anime quickly became international hits.

If the installation of Wingard as the director is any indication, the film should have strong horror overtones. It will also be highly interesting to see how Hollywood recreates the bizarre looking Death Gods.

Hollywood actor Masi Oka, who is well-known here in Japan, along with Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Jason Hoffs will be producing the film, and Jeremey Slater, who scripted "Fantastic Four," has apparently written a new draft of the script, so it certainly looks like all the right groundwork is being laid.

Based on how well the Japanese "Death Note" films did, expectations are bound to be high for the Hollywood version, and unless they do something terribly wrong here (which sadly has been known to happen with live action adaptations of anime and manga), the movie definitely has the potential to be a huge box office hit in Japan. We’ll be looking forward to more news and footage coming out in the future.

Sources: The Hollywood Reporter, Cinema Today

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Dark manga meets music — It’s Death Note the Musical -- Teaser trailer released for new Ghost in the Shell movie, set to open summer 2015 -- New Juon/The Grudge horror film announced with Nozomi Sasaki

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No, please. Don't touch Death Note, one of my favorite series ever. :(

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Alex80: I think there was good reason to worry with Gus Van Sant as the director. He's done great work -- but not on things like this! With Wingard, I'm not sure, but keep in mind that with Hollywood reproductions of Japanese work it is hit or miss. The versions of The Ring were a lot better than the Japanese original in terms of production value and feel of horror (the Japanese version was also great, but in it the woman had some psychic powers which led the audience to know too easily what was going on, and it was also played by recycled characters hard to take seriously in their new roles). The Grudge (Ju-On) was also better, although it should be noted it was a very interesting remake because it was done by the same, Japanese director and filmed in Japan. And the Death Note movies were never popular anywhere but Japan, and while not BAD, per se, the CG demon in them made the movies outright laughable and destroyed any credibility they had. On the other hand, Hollywood DOES tend to blow a lot of movies they try to copy or reboot, like Shall We Dance, which wasn't bad but the original far superior, etc.

In any case, it should be interesting. I'm guessing that instead of the CG demon they'll introduce a more human like 'demon' that makes it more believable, or the demon/devil as some kind of shadow/illusion that allows the audience to wonder if the person is hallucinating or not.

It could be good.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The Japanese films were fine, why remake them? I've never understood why Hollywood has to remake everything. Shows a lack of imagination.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Death Note is too much related to Japanese culture. Something will be lost for sure. And I'm not speaking only about the Shinigami cultural background. Some time ago, I read Hollywood wanted that Light Yagami was more like a "good kid" after all, because you can't show teenagers being so evil. There's this nihilistic and "gloomy" feeling in Japanese culture that can't be reproduced well in Hollywood, where you have always a prevalent positivism, the idea that in the fight between good and evil, good will always win. This is also why I don't like some Disney movies very much. I mean, when I was a kid I appreciated them, of course, but they tend to destroy the essence of some beautiful fairy tales, because they must have always the happy end. See for example The Little Mermaid. A very funny movie, but the original fairy tale was so much more beautiful.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The Japanese films were fine, why remake them?

Those changes suck compared to the original. Also realize, those J-films are remakes.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Thunderbird2 - why remake them? Because Hollywood needs bankable product with a history of success. The word original has been replaced by the word "untested" to describe new ideas. Also, Americans generally do not receive subtitles too well.

I have read an early version of the script and it was terrible. Really, really bad. So at least it's had a polish. It needed more than a polish, frankly.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Japanese films were fine, why remake them? I've never understood why Hollywood has to remake everything. Shows a lack of imagination.

As Toby says, the films were remakes of the manga. As far as Hollywood having a "lack of imagination", I'll say to what I say to everyone else who complains about that: "I don't see you submitting any truly original alternatives to them."

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Well, thinking of the live-action movies Dragonball Evolution (2009) and The Last Airbender (2010), Hollywood has a lot to apologise for.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Fans of the “Death Note’ series should be glad to hear that the long-awaited Hollywood film version will now be directed by Adam Wingard, known as the director of scream-worthy cult horror flicks such as “The Guest” and “You’re Next.”

Death Note isn't horror, anyway.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Thunderbird2: The films were absolutely horrible -- from the actual quality of the film, to the disgusting CG that LITERALLY made people I know laugh at the screen! As for lacking imagination -- it takes quite the imagination in remaking a film or adapting from another medium. Well, sometimes they just flat out copy, and when they do it shows and it is to their detriment. But there's not much they can do to make it worse than the Japanese versions.

Alex80: "Death Note is too much related to Japanese culture."


-2 ( +0 / -2 )


I already explained it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Alex80: "I already explained it."

No, you gave stereotypical generalizations, some of which they also have in other cultures. There's no "shinigami" outside of Japanese culture? Really? Maybe no stupid CG one, perhaps. No Norse gods of death? No Greek gods? Roman? Pagan? Hindu? No "gloomy teens" in other nations?

You reference Disney, the company that mostly makes cartoons for young children, ahem, as a production company that tends to make endings positive (I can't believe you would only site The Little Mermaid! Too easy!), but you fail to take into so many other Hollywood flicks that are quite dark. And the Japanese version of Death Note, by the way, was a joke. Light Yagami wasn't 'dark' or 'bad' either; the acting was so bad I couldn't stop laughing and picturing him as a recycled Johnny's music member in front of the cameras.

I'm not saying the American version won't also be a complete disaster, by the way.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

No Norse gods of death? No Greek gods? Roman? Pagan? Hindu? No "gloomy teens" in other nations?

Norse gods of death are Norse gods of death. Greek gods are Greek gods. Shinigami are Shinigami. What's your problem? Every culture has its own things.

I didn't speak about "gloomy teens". You can find them everywhere. I spoke about a general perspective. And every country has a peculiar perspective towardse xistence and world, given by its own hystory. Yeah, Disney mostly makes cartoons for young children. Japanese animation always made tons of cartoons for young children too. But also Japanese animation for kids, specially in the 70s and 80s, has always been way darker than Western animation for kids, indeed in the West it has been often censored (also meisaku based on Western books, because they were considered too much dramatic for western kids). Plus, in Japanese imaginery post WWII played a big role the atomic apocalypse, that inspired many works. America didn't experience something like being nuked. I would like explain more things, but my English isn't very good, sadly, and I'm also a bit tired. Anyway, you can't think "it's the same thing" when a work born in a country gets an adaptation in another country.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

But... the story actually did begin in America. Not talking about the "Manga".... I am talking about the book "Death Note: Another Note"... Both L and Light worked together on a case involving someone else who had the Death Note.. but neither remembered these events. If they picked up on that story... I would be all for it!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Aaron Lloyd Brummett: That book was basically a spin-off. I doubt they mean to do an adaptation of that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm afraid that the howllywood version would be as bad as the godzilla movies made by hollywood.

Apart form the CG I do like the Japanese version of Death Note, Tatsuya Fujiwara and Kenichi Matsuyama took on complex roles and did well, for me the series and the movies focus on the traits of the characters, light, and intelligent man who have his own set of morals and L who also have morals but one that superseeds the others: a crime is a crime.

I doubt Hollywood would explore that angle of the series. The Ring and the Grudge were decent tho'

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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