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The Variety entertainment trade news source is reporting on Wednesday that American film studio Warner Brothers licensed the live-action feature rights to Tite Kubo's supernatural action manga and anime Bleach. Warner is now developing the project and has assigned Dan Mazeau (Wrath of the Titans remake) to write a script. Peter Segal (Get Smart remake, The Longest Yard remake, Anger Management) is attached as a producer with a possibility of being the director as well.
The other producers include Segal's Callahan Filmworks partner Michael Ewing, actor Masi Oka (Heroes, Get Smart), and Jason Hoffs (The Terminal) at Viz Productions (a subsidiary of Bleach's North American publisher Viz Media). Branon Coluccio will be an executive producer.
The manga follows a 15-year-old boy named Ichigo Kurosaki who becomes a Soul Reaper — a "Shinigami" or "God of Death" who protects humans from the "Hollow" spirits that prey on them. The manga has sold over 75 million copies in Japan.
Shueisha publishes the manga in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine in Japan, and Studio Pierrot has been adapting the manga on television and in movie theaters since 2004. The Adult Swim programming block of America's Cartoon Network and Canada's YTV channel ran the anime on television.
Segal told Variety, "I've always been a huge fan of Bleach and have great respect for its creator Kubo-sensei and the truly original and amazing world he has created in this manga."
Oka, who acted in Heroes and Segal's Get Smart film, is a well-known manga fan. He drew inspiration from Dragon Ball for his Heroes character Hiro Nakamura, and he describes himself as a Naoki Urasawa and Shonen Jump "geek." He brought the project to Callahan Filmworks.
The Hollywood Reporter newspaper's Heat Vision blog reported in 2010 that Warner Brothers was "in the process of securing the movie rights to" Bleach. Heat Vision had reported then that Segal was lining himself up to produce, but not direct.
Warner Brothers has already acquired the rights to adapt Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata's Death Note supernatural suspense manga, which — like Bleach — is published by Weekly Shonen Jump in Japan and by Viz Media in North America. Along with Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way production company, Warner Brothers is also developing adaptations of Yoshiaki Kawajiri and Mad House's Ninja Scroll action anime film and Katsuhiro Otomo and Kodansha's Akira science-fiction manga. Viz set up an office in Hollywood in 2008 to promote Viz's properties to Hollywood interests.
Thanks to Daniel Zelter for the news tip.
[Via Comic Book Movie]
Update: More background information added.
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