At this point, any American live-action adaptation of a Japanese manga or anime series is going to be met with plenty of suspicion. From Dragonball Evolution to the controversial Ghost in the Shell adaptation, these projects just never seem to go as planned. There’s certainly reason to be skeptical about Death Note — the source material is tricky, there’s been the usual whitewashing complaints about the film’s casting, and it was rescued by Netflix after being dropped like a hot potato by Warner Bros. Despite all that, the project charges ahead.
Netflix has announced that shooting has official begun up in Canada. The movie is being helmed by acclaimed horror director Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest) and stars Nat Wolff (The Fault in Our Stars), Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers), Keith Stanfield (Straight Outta Compton), Paul Nakauchi (Alpha and Omega), and Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire). Wingard had a brief message for Death Note fans…
I am honored to be working with this great cast and I look forward to bringing Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s unique story to a global audience.
Death Note producers Roy Lee and Dan Lin had a bit more to say, releasing a statement that could be seen as a subtle deflection of potential casting crticisms.
Our vision for Death Note has always been to bring this captivating story to the screen for its longtime manga fans and to introduce the world to this dark and mysterious masterpiece. The talent and diversity represented in our cast, writing, and producing teams reflect our belief in staying true to the story’s concept of moral relevance — a universal theme that knows no racial boundaries.
The producers have also assured fans Death Note will retain the manga/anime’s dark tone.
It’s definitely for adults. It is zero chance it will be below an R-rating. It will be one of the first manga adaptations that feels very grounded but still has fantastical elements.
For those not up on their manga, Death Note revolves around a high schooler named Light Yagami, who finds a notebook that will kill anybody whose name is written in its pages. Light starts using the book to strike down criminals and others he deems morally unfit, which naturally attracts attention of the police. It’s certainly a more twisted concept than what Hollywood usually dabbles in.
What do you think? Does the Death Note have a chance, or is it dead on arrival? Death Note is expected to hit Netflix sometime in 2017.