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.
According 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.