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The Los Angeles-based film and television production company Splendent Media signed a multi-year deal to represent the rights outside Japan to 69 titles from legendary director Akira Kurosawa. Among the works Splendent is handling are many of his live-action classics and The Masque of the Black Death, an unproduced script that Kurosawa co-wrote before his death in 1998. The Masque of the Black Death was slated to receive a theatrical animated film adaptation in 2010 (see picture below).
The Masque of the Black Death was to be one of two theatrical projects that would celebrate the 100th anniversary of Kurosawa's birth in 2010, along with a Hollywood remake of Rashomon. Japan's Kurosawa Production and Lotus, America's Lexicon Film Entertainment and Harbor Light Entertainment, and Singapore's Upside Down Entertainment were to jointly produce The Masque of the Black Death.
Kurosawa and his writing collaborator Masato Ide (Red Beard, Kagemusha, Ran) based their unproduced script on "The Masque of the Red Death," Edgar Allan Poe's 1842 horror short story about a prince's attempt to escape a plague while holding a masquerade in his abbey. Kurosawa and Ide's version moves the setting to a fictional version of Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, when most of humanity faces a deadly contagion. The suspense story deals with the human condition when people are pushed to extremes and despair.
Splendent, founded by Sakiko Yamada (executive producer, Wilde Salome), will represent the rights to 26 films Kurosawa directed, including Rashomon, Ran, Yojimbo, Dreams, and Kagemusha; 24 films he penned but did not direct, and 19 screenplays Kurosawa wrote but were never produced. Splendent, aside from representing the films, is also considering producing some of the titles.
Four Kurosawa works — Seven Samurai, High and Low, Drunken Angel, and Ikiru — are not part of the Splendent deal. Seven Samurai inspired the anime series and manga Samurai 7 as well as a new film remake that The Weinstein Company is developing with director Scott Mann (The Tournament). Yojimbo also inspired an anime series, Kaze no Yojimbo.