It seems that the dreams of anxious anime enthusiasts have now become reality. Although Warner Bros. has not made a public statement as of yet, an exclusive from The Tracking Board claims that Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho, Milk) has been named as the director of an upcoming American adaptation of the popular Japanese manga and anime series, Death Note.
Beginning as a popular manga, Death Note found international success as an anime television series. It was shortly followed by two live-action Japanese films, which were generally regarded as underwhelming. Ever since, die-hard fans have expressed a need for another, more satisfying remake. Rumors have circulated for years, but to no avail. With new details now emerging, it seems that an upcoming production is finally in development.
Preceding this news, it was largely believed that Shane Black (Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys) would be directing the picture. Dan Lin (Sherlock Holmes) and John Powers Middleton (The Lego Movie) are tied to the project as producers, while Anthony Bagarozzi (The Nice Guys, Deathless) and Chuck Mondry (Deathless) team up with the original manga writers, Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, for the adapted screenplay. With Black, Bagarozzi, and Mondry working together on other upcoming productions, it’s no wonder the details behind Death Note have become so confusing.
Now that Van Sant is in the picture, one can only speculate as to what his vision of the cult anime hit will look like. The series features a teenager who attains a mysterious notebook with the power to kill those whose names are written in it, after it was lost from the hands of a Japanese demon. While his career has encompassed a diverse slate of films, Van Sant has been consistently praised for his pensive, poignant, and visually-striking sensibilities. If he stays in the picture, Death Note could potentially grow from its anime subculture and become embraced by a much wider audience. Although he can’t be blamed for a lack of brazenness for his 1998 shot-by-shot remake of Psycho, hopefully this new remake won’t also suffer a near-unanimous disapproval.