Back in 2015, it was announced that a Western, live-action Naruto movie adaptation was in the works with Lionsgate reported as being in negotiations with Michael Gracey (The Greatest Showman) to direct. Nothing much followed that report for about a year and a half, but then the project got a big bump by the reveal that the series’ creator Masashi Kishimoto would be involved with the production. Still, after the likes of Dragonball: Evolution, The Last Airbender, Ghost in the Shell, and Death Note, Western, Americanized adaptations of inherently Japanese properties have gotten more wrong than right.
And that brings us up to today. During a recent chat with Gracey for the upcoming Blu-ray release of his smash-hit musical The Greatest Showman, our own Adam Chitwood got an update on the Naruto adaptation. Clearly, the benefit of hindsight regarding those aforementioned films has given Gracey some clarity where Naruto is concerned; it’s a project he’d rather not do at all than do a disservice to it. That’s refreshing in this day and age of cash-grab adaptations, but it likely means that we won’t be seeing a live-action Naruto movie anytime soon. Your mileage may vary on that account.
Here’s what Gracey had to say regarding the status of Naruto:
“I don’t know [if it will be my next film], to be honest. You know Kishimoto, who created the original series, he’s just a genius. So many Hollywood adaptations of really popular manga series just don’t get it right, and for me what was really important was that if I was gonna do Naruto, I wanted to actually work with Kishimoto and get a script to a stage where he would look at it and be excited about realizing it. Because no one knows the world better than the person who created it.
I think it’s safe to say that if Kishimoto isn’t on board, and Gracey doesn’t feel strongly about the script, it should stay in development. Gracey continued:
“So for me, as it stands, we’re still working on the script. Because until that script is at a level that I’m excited about, I have no interest in destroying an amazing franchise, as has happened before. But I think the great thing is that everyone involved, from Lionsgate to the producers, are all of the same mind. Everyone knows how precious this property is and to me it’s incredibly exciting, and I love the work that I’ve gotten to do on it to date. At this stage, no one is going to go into production until we’ve got a script that excites everyone. So whether it’s my next one or not, I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.”
So there you have it! Naruto is not a go until the script is cracked, otherwise we’ll end up with an adaptation that’s akin to a failed Shadow Clone jutsu. I’m fine waiting, what about you? Let us know in the comments!