5 Unrealized Western Anime Movies
by Jacki Jing & Lynzee Loveridge,
The live-action Cowboy Bebop series is really, truly happening after being floated for years around Hollywood. The series is coming to Netflix in the near future, even if it has hit a setback (get well soon John Cho!) The idea for Hollywood's Cowboy Bebop goes back over a decade with Keanu Reeves originally attached. I'd pretty much given up on anything materializing to be honest but hey, I thought the same thing about James Cameron's long delayed Alita: Battle Angel live-action film, too. Glad to be wrong 15 years later!
For every adaptation that does see the light of day, there's a handful more that are still stuck somewhere in the writing room. This week we'll look at five Hollywood anime adaptations that almost happened!
5. Lament of the Lamb
This dark sibling vampire tale once had big dreams of being live-action horror feature. The vampire story follows a pair of siblings afflicted with a genetic condition that makes them thirst for blood. Kei has been separated from his his sister Chizuru for a long time, but once the symptoms begin to surface they get back in touch, literally and figuratively, as Chizuru attempts to help him work through his urges. A live-action version was shopped around by Tokyopop's Stu Levy beginning in 2006. Levy stated he wanted to have the script written in Hollywood, hire a Japanese director, and then film it in Eastern Europe. These plans would eventually change to take advantage of the 3D film craze that cropped up in the late aughts. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within's visual art director Takahiko Akiyama was attached to direct the 120-minute film under the title Love Like Blood but with a budget of less than US$6 million, Love Like Blood's time ran out.
One of the worst things that can happen to a live-action film project - beyond it never hitting theaters - is investors suing to get back their lost funding or film options. That's part of what happened when 20th Century Fox's New Regency tried to work out a film deal based on Toei Animation's Voltron anime series with the Mark Gordon Co. in 2007. The following year American company World Events Productions attempted to sue Toei Animation over the film, as both companies were at odds over who held the rights to greenlight a live-action film in the first place. Toei released a statement that alerted Regency to the discrepancy and basically foiled WEP's plans to get the film off the ground. It appears that WEP won out, as the company was back at the project again three years later, this time with Atlas Entertainment. The last update came in 2016 with Universal Entertainment attached and X-Men writer and Solid Snake voice actor David Hayter penning the script.
3. Tiger & Bunny
Bankruptcy was the final nail in the coffin for the Tiger & Bunny Hollywood film. Film studio Global Road Entertainment was one of the partners for the proposed film but it filed for Chapter 11 bankrupcy in 2018 and started selling its unreleased films. The company had accrued nearly up to 500 million in debt. Unless another stalwart studio decides to take the lead, it looks like we may never see Kotetsu's goatee in all of its glory.
2. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Your casual reminder that while Eva is streaming on Netflix, ADV once sued Gainax over its failed to launch live-action film. ADV attempted to bring Gainax to court to legally clarify the circumstances surrounding a live-action Evangelion film. At the time, ADV alleged that Gainax wouldn't commit to ADV's rights to make a live-action adaptation and was basically digging its heels into the ground over the project. The legal matter came in 2011, eight years after ADV, Gainax, and Weta Workshop first announced plans at Cannes Film Festival. As for the film itself, Weta Workshop concept art revealed plans for Westernization of the story with characters named "Ray" "Kate Rose," and "Susan Whitnall."
This film has a history a mile long, so pop yourself some popcorn. Hollywood A-Lister Leonardo DiCaprio has been trying to produce a film based on Katsuhiro Otomo's sci-fi classic for 10 years. The project has attached numerous writers but cost of recreating the destruction and chaos is often too high and paired with numerous script rewrites, no one has been able to make it work. . Short film director Ruairi Robinson was initially set to direct with scriptwriter Gary Whitta, but that would later change to director Albert Hughes and writer Steve Kloves, and later director Jaume Collett-Serra. Collett-Serra would manage to get on fans' bad side after describing Otomo's original characters as "boring" and that weak characters are "part of Japanese culture." This might be why early script drafts moved the location to "New Manhattan" and Keanu Reeves was offered the lead role of Kaneda. The move was, at that point in 2014, stalled for the second time after Warner Bros. had formally shut the whole production down in 2012. The project circled around yet again in 2015, this time with Daredevil writer Marco Ramirez attached and new director talks, plans for production to start in Fall 2019 and a premiere date of May 21, 2021 but SURPRISE, that fell through too. As of this month Thor 3 director Taika Waititi has said the film is still going to get made, the script is still being worked on, and there probably won't be any movement on it until after Thor 4.
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