Peter Webber (Hannibal Rising) has signed on to direct Emperor, a thriller and love story based on true events following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. The story centers on General Bonner Fellers, who must decide whether to charge Emperor Hirohito as a war criminal. The script by David Klass (Walking Tall) and Vera Blasi (Woman on Top) interweaves the story of Fellers’ love affair with a Japanese exchange student. Said Webber, “The fact that all this came wrapped up in a tense political thriller with an epic love story at the heart of it made it irresistible.”
The press release notes that Emperor is a working title. You may recall from our recent interview with producer Mark Canton that he is also developing a film titled Emperor, about a young Julius Caesar. The former is further along—producers Yoko Narahashi, Gary Foster, and Eugene Nomara are planning for a January 2012 start date—and may have the right to the title by virtue of the Early Bird rule. However, I’d like to suggest the title Hirohito as a solid backup plan. Hit the jump for the full announcement.
PETER WEBBER TO DIRECT “EMPEROR” WITH LENSING TO BEGIN IN JANUARY 2012
Gary Foster to Produce Alongside Yoko Narahashi and Eugene Nomura
Los Angeles, November 2, 2011: Pre-production is underway on EMPEROR (working title), with Peter Webber (Girl with a Pearl Earring) attached to direct the screenplay by David Klass (Walking Tall, Desperate Measures, Kiss the Girls) and Vera Blasi (Woman on Top, Tortilla Soup). EMPEROR will be produced by Yoko Narahashi (The Last Samurai), Gary Foster (Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Sleepless in Seattle, The Soloist), Eugene Nomura (Tajomaru, Surely Some Day) and Russ Krasnoff (The Soloist). EMPEROR is a co-production between Fellers Film and Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment.
Inspired by true events, EMPEROR is an epic story of love and understanding set amidst the tensions and uncertainties of the days immediately following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II. On the staff of General Douglas MacArthur, the de facto ruler of Japan as Supreme Commander of the occupying forces, a leading Japanese expert, General Bonner Fellers, is charged with reaching a decision of historical importance: should Emperor Hirohito be tried and hanged as a war criminal?
Interwoven with this nail-biting political thriller is the story of Fellers’ love affair with Aya, a Japanese exchange student he had met years previously in the U.S. Memories of Aya and his quest to find her in the ravaged post-war landscape help Fellers to discover both his wisdom and his humanity and enable him to come to the momentous decision that changed the course of history and the future of two nations.
Producer Gary Foster said: “The end of WW2 in the far east and the relationship between General MacArthur and Japan, is a part of history which has been largely unexplored on film. With most documents burned, historians have relied on accounts which are being debated to this day.”
Producer Yoko Narahashi: “An amazing story – it’s always about a great story. U.S. films have been produced about Japan. By uniting filmmakers from Japan, the US and the UK, we can bring light to the men who really changed history.” Producer Eugene Nomura continued: “It is a story that should continue to be told to future generations!”
Director Peter Webber said: “I immediately responded to the intelligence, humanity and emotion of the script. It’s a fascinating period of history and there are strong parallels to the contemporary world in the issues of regime change and seeking revenge against the old political order. The fact that all this came wrapped up in a tense political thriller with an epic love story at the heart of it made it irresistible. ”
Production is due to begin in January 2012 with lensing to take place in New Zealand and Japan. CAA is handling sales inside the United States and casting is currently underway.