Warner Bros. Acquires Yakuza Flick THE OUTSIDER

by     Posted 3 years, 31 days ago

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Any film folks out there complaining about the complete lack of movies in development that aren’t based a previously existing high-selling property (whether it be a book, toy, board game, or eventually a soft drink) should feel a little excited today because Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to an original screenplay called The Outsider. More importantly, they plan to make the project a priority. Granted, we’re not exactly talking about the studio bending over backwards to fund a low-key art film. The Outsider is a period Yakuza drama guaranteed to be filled with action and with a central role custom-made for a movie star. It’s commercial, but also compelling and potentially geared for an adult audience (a Hollywood movie for grown ups? Say it ain’t so!). Not much is known about the project yet, but everything that has been revealed so far sounds pretty good. Hit the jump for more details about the upcoming flick.

yakuza-imageAccording to Deadline, Warner Bros. snapped up The Outsider screenplay today from writer Andrew Baldwin. The film is about an American who spent WWII as a POW in Japan and decides to stay in the country after the war to work his way into the ranks of the Japanese mob, the Yakuza (a rather terrifying crime syndicate requiring all manner of wild rituals and psychotic behavior). Yakuza gangsters always make for great movie characters and the post WWII setting ensures that the film will be based at the most intense period in the history of the Yakuza. There aren’t many American Yakuza movies out there other than the excellent 1973 Sydney Pollack/Paul Schrader joint The Yakuza, in which a graying Robert Mitchum heads to Japan to take on the entire mob to rescue his friend’s kidnapped daughter (yes, it’s just as awesome as it sounds). In Japan there are of course many Yakuza films, with the must see-series being Kinji Battle Royale Fukasuku’s 5-part 70s crime epic The Yakuza Papers.

On paper, The Outsider seems loaded with potential. The success of the film will come down to who gets hired as the director and who will play the American lead (somehow I don’t think this flick would work with Zac Efron). Fortunately the project is in good hands. The idea was developed by John Linson, who will produce with his father Art Linson. The pair of been responsible for some strong work as of late, co-producing the FX series Sons Of Anarchy and films like The Runaways and Lords Of Dogtown. Art Linson is one of the good producers out there in La-la-land. He’s responsible for shepherding an incredible array of offbeat movies to the screen over his long career including Fight Club, Heat, Melvin And Howard, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Scrooged, and The Untouchables. If anyone can attach some compelling talent to this project, it’s the Linsons and hopefully The Outsider will move into production damn quickly.




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  • tk421

    Excellent news for all the reasons listed above. Hollywood needs to re-invest in drama aimed toward adults. Variety and boldness will make cinema as relevant and vibrant as television has become. This project, depending, of course, on it’s execution, sounds like a step in that direction.

  • Jug

    *Sigh* Laying money it’s another movie where the white guy learns about the “beauty” of another culture? Bet he learns that all the crazy rituals, murder & extremely strict standards of honor & loyalty are what’s missing in his vanilla, American, “Main Street” life back home? LOL

    Why can’t the outsider be Japanese? You know, ALL Japanese guys aren’t Yakuza? :-(

    • Hiro the Eighth Samurai (and 14th Assassin)

      Of course it will. Because Hollywood’s shortsighted, narrow-minded and racist. People talk about how liberal Hollywood is, but their casting practices prove otherwise.

      The title itself is the big tipoff: The Outsider. And “the outsider” will learn the ways of the Yakuza, and be better at it than they are just after a couple weeks of training. Or he’ll just be plain smarter than they are.

      Besides, there’s already a movie called Black Rain, starring Michael Douglas, which seems to cover similar territory. Then there’s also that movie “American Yakuza,” with Viggo Mortensen. Of course, his character infiltrates it, rises up the ranks and becomes one of the Yakuza. It’s preposterous.

      This “new” movie will be based on the same old, lame, narrow-minded formula.

      • Alex-mansy

        Well I believe ‘Yakuza’ actually means in japanese ‘the outsider’. So perhaps it may just be inspired by the yakuza and it’s just about your average criminal getting inducted into a some criminal organization.

        Most yakuza are koreans or at best chinese. The idea of a caucasian yakuza is hilarious.

  • Hiro the Eighth Samurai (and 14th Assassin)

    Who’s going to play the lead member of the Yakuza, or the main character. Justin Timberlake? Tom Cruise? Justin Bieber?

    Are they going to call it the Last Yakuza, with Tom Cruise playing a drunken, American street criminal who all of a sudden finds himself inexplicably the right hand man to the Oyabun, and, after the dust settles, finds that HE is the Last Yakuza?

  • tk421

    While I see where Jug is coming from (i.e. the world doesn’t need another “Dances with Wolves”, “Last Samurai”, or the upcoming Keanu Reeves led “49 Ronin”), one has to face up to a glaring reality. Americans, by and large, want to see movies about Americans who speak English. I do not say that this is correct or healthy, nor am I saying that the paradigm does not need to shift. I am saying that this is a reality that can be quantified in box-office receipts.
    “Foreign films”, for the most part, either eek out a modest profit or die a miserable (and sometimes undeserved) death in American cinemas. The Hollywood of the major studios like Warner Bros. (who aquired this script) is a business meant to make vast sums of money. With this in mind, if Hollywood is going to explore the world of Japanese organized crime, one can have little doubt that they will do so through the lens of a white, English-speaking Westerner in order to achieve the broadest possible appeal in the American market place.
    While I would love to see a new yakuza film produced with a healthy budget and the best crew and creative team that Hollywood can assemble told from an “insider’s” point of view, that’s not going to happen here and probably won’t happen soon.
    Personally, I will console myself with the hundreds of Japanese-made yakuza films already in existence, many of which are damn fine pieces of cinema (such as the above mentioned “The Yakuza Papers” aka “Battles Without Honor or Humanity).
    I’m simply glad that a period-based, R-rated, adult oriented ORIGINAL (not a remake or fucking boardgame) script was bought by a major studio with establish producers aboard to see it through to production. This, as debatable as its point of view may be, is anamolous in this epoch and cause for genuine (if guarded) enthusiasm. I hope this move sees production and a release.

  • Thuan Dang

    throw out white guy protagonist, put in Sung Kang and there’s your movie.

  • Alex-mansy

    We’ll let’s get things clear.

    Yakuza is mostly made of of koreans not japanese. The yakuza are looked down as low lifes by your average japanese and so this criminal organization is open to foreigners.

    So the idea of a guy from the west who isn’t asian isn’t that farfetched.

    What’s critical and important is that the film be set in japan. With a large japanese supporting cast, or at least koreans if they are yakuza.

    • Aurora Vampiris
    • Hiro the Eighth Samurai (and 14th Assassin)

      Farfetched or not, Hollywood can and does force in a white character, as the lead, no matter how preposterous it is.

      In even the most ridiculous, ill-fitting scenarios Hollywood will present a lead white character.

  • Chill Guy

    Everyone needs to chill out w/ the race crap. First of all, let’s be real: Is this film called “Asian Yakuza Dude?” And who cares if it’s a white guy, as long as it’s someone really fitting for the role who can ACT…I have a feeling the main protagonist AND the director are going to be huge. Yeah, Sung Kang might be better than Zack Efron and Justin Timberlake, but the fact is he (AND they) are just not big enough nor able to carry the weight of a project of this magnitude.

    Second of all, who cares if the same formula is being used as long as it’s done better and/or differently? You can argue that the same formula is used in every single movie made with another one, whether more obscure or more popular. The fact that you’re so incensed over this one makes me think you’re taking it VERY personally and not too objectively.

    Finally, look who’s producing– the Linsons have only produced quality work over the past few decades. None of their stuff is cheesy, overdone, or cheap. They’ll know how to turn a tried formula into an interestingly new one, albeit the same “ingredients.”

    Like I said, don’t get your panties in a bunch too prematurely…wait for it to come out first.

    • case study

      They may be good producers, but the screen play sounds very cheesy and cheap, you could try and shine a turd, but it will stay a turd nevertheless.

      i can only see this looking like a inglorious basterds rehash at best but shooting japanese ppl, and perhaps look like avatar with far less stunning visuals to mask a poor story.

      you seem to imply race doesn’t matter, acting skills do, yet you (stereotypically) go on to proclaim asians aren’t big enough to carry (all?) Hollywood projects due to either talent or fame, i hope you can see the contradicting excuse you and hollywood has made for the last two decades.

      If you’re looking for the typical “white knight/ dances with wolves/ saved by america” movie, then yes, this sounds like a run of the mill movie with a large buget (perhaps passed on from the failure to launch akira americano).

    • Heat up Dude

      I agree. Hollywood’s history of white washing scripts and racist eurocentric casting has been going on since it’s inception. No use stopping now.

  • kanto-yakuza

    alex-mansy stop being, stupid the yakuza is not mainly korean! the majority of yakuza around 100,00 members, of which 70% are mainly japanese outcasts, called the burakumin, and around 30% are korean. i just hope that this film will diiffer from that same formula and will be something unique!!!

  • Maki

    Sounds like this screenplay borrows heavily from Robert Whiting’s Tokyo Underworld, which was supposedly heading toward development a few years ago.

    http://www.nihonsun.com/2009/08/07/tokyo-underworld-coming-to-a-theater-near-you/

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