With Adam Wingard’s reboot of the Blair Witch series hitting theaters this weekend after being revealed just a few months ago during Comic-Con, the director has been making the press rounds to discuss taking the reins of a beloved horror property. But his next project will find him in similar territory as he steps behind the camera for a live-action adaptation of Death Note, the venerated manga series by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata.
While Death Note has previously been translated into other mediums, including a 37-episode anime version and a trilogy of live-action films in Japan, it’s the first time that an American interpretation has been attempted. The project languished in development hell for years before Warner Bros. abandoned it back in April, but its subsequent landing at Netflix may actually work in its favor – since the streaming network isn’t beholden to the MPAA’s ratings system, they don’t have to abide by the same rules.
Indeed, while speaking with Collider Wingard confirmed that working with Netflix is affording him plenty of creative freedom:
“We can do whatever we want. That was the cool thing about it, because it’s an anime film. So, technically, it’s a cartoon that you’re bring to life. To me, the thing about anime is that it’s so adult-oriented. I remember going to Suncoast growing up and you see Akira there with the little ‘Not for Kids’ sticker on it. That always made an impact on me. So, doing my first live-action anime thing, to me it was important that you have those adult themes. So, it’s got nudity, it’s got swearing, it’s got a ton of violence. Jason Eisener, who did Hobo with a Shotgun. I brought him on – I’m good friends with him – as second-unit director. There’s basically like three good Jason Eisner short films in there and they’re all very gory. I was able to just turn him loose sometime, and just do some crazy stuff.”
It sounds like fans of the source material who’ve been worrying about this project can rest a bit easier, as Wingard doesn’t sound like he’ll be pulling any punches here. He’s also put together an impressive cast for this version of Death Note, including Nat Wolff (The Fault in Our Stars), Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers), Keith Stanfield (Straight Outta Compton), Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire) and Willem Dafoe as the voice of the shinigami Ryuk.
Death Note will premiere on Netflix sometime in 2017.
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