You’re kidding, me. News about an American version of DEATH NOTE that doesn’t concern Zac Ephron?! Deadline’s got the fairly significant scoop that Shane Black has signed on to direct a feature version of this beloved series about heart attacks, demons and righteous judgment. I know there’s plenty of overlap in audiences in these circles, but if you’re unfamiliar with Mr. Black, he was pretty much the #1 Hollywood screenwriter in the late 80s and early 90s. He wrote things like LETHAL WEAPON and THE LAST BOY SCOUT, and broke industry records when he got paid $4 million for a script once. Lately, he’s turned to directing and his last effort was the criminally-underrated "buddy noir" KISS KISS, BANG BANG.
I’m sure the prospect of any Hollywood person on this project would probably make many of lunatics want to write your own names down in the book, but take assurance in the fact that Black is actually a fan. And, considering how KISS KISS, BANG BANG was obviously written by a guy who’d read a ton of pulp, detective novels, I’m inclined to believe this isn’t the usual lip service.
So spoke Mr. Black…
Come what may, it's a long time since I've been as genuinely curious about a potential film. You know I love DEATH NOTE, and I've been a fan of Black's for a long time. He was one of few big screenwriters with an immediately-distinct voice and I’ve even studied the guys work over the years. While I’m still skeptical over how well things like Ryuk, Rem and Misa's string of coincidences could translate to an American movie (especially after those corny-as-hell Japanese live-action ones,) I'm really, really intrigued to see what could result from this unexpected intersection of talent and material.
“It’s my favorite manga, I was just struck by its unique and brilliant sensibility… What we want to do is take it back to that manga, and make it closer to what is so complex and truthful about the spirituality of the story, versus taking the concept and trying to copy it as an American thriller.”
Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of HYBRID BASTARDS! & UNIMAGINABLE . Order them on Amazon here & here . Follow him on Twitter: @tompinchuk