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Shane Black to direct American adaptation of Death Note!

Correction: Shane Black won't be writing the script to DEATH NOTE; he'll be overseeing a script written by Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry.  Sorry for the error.

Nordling here.

I've never seen any of the DEATH NOTE films, the anime or read the manga, but I know of the property due to it's huge popularity in Japan.  The story, at least to me, sounds very RING-ish, though I fully admit to having only a cursory knowledge of the material.  I'm sure for those of you who know more about it I'll hear all about the differences between DEATH NOTE and other J-horror properties in the Talkback.

Deadline reports that Warner Brothers is going to bring this multivolume story to the United States, and it's tapped Shane Black to adapt, write, and direct the film. “It’s my favorite manga, I was just struck by its unique and brilliant sensibility,” Black said to Deadline. “What we want to do is take it back to that manga, and make it closer to what is so complex and truthful about the spirituality of the story, versus taking the concept and trying to copy it as an American thriller.”

The manga, which is about a notebook that can kill anyone whose name is written inside it, has had great success in Japan, with many films, books, and anime being released there and doing very well.   Black would probably bring a more American sensibility to the project, and considering his work on films like KISS KISS, BANG BANG, he’d probably bring a strong sense of humor as well.

Read more about Shane Black’s involvement and more about DEATH NOTE at Deadline.

Nordling, out.

Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:29 p.m. CST

    trigun movie or gtfo

    by ORIONgods

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:29 p.m. CST

    Holy shit!

    by Thrillhouse77

    That's a pairing I never expected. Shane Black and anime?

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:29 p.m. CST

    ps death note is for emo kids

    by ORIONgods

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:30 p.m. CST

    Death Note and J-Horror

    by agt

    Though I only read the first few volumes, and never watched any of the films, I would argue that Death Note is not so much J-Horror as it is about a boy who acquires the notebook and the subsequent moral implications of him using it to kill people. It certainly does NOT seem like Shane Black material. But hopefully I will be surprised. (Black's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is one of my favorites)

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:38 p.m. CST


    by Matt

    Shane Black script with Donner directing. Make it so!

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:39 p.m. CST


    by Darth Busey

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:39 p.m. CST


    by Darth Busey

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:39 p.m. CST

    No matter what... it's GOT to be better then Green Hornet

    by LargoJr

    HOLY SHIT did that movie suck. Seth was a TERRIBLE choice for the lead, and the film was just stupid. I kept hoping James Franco would show up in more scenes and get his foot stuck in a windshield or something.

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:39 p.m. CST


    by Darth Busey

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:40 p.m. CST

    I SAID "I DIDN'T!"

    by Darth Busey

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:40 p.m. CST


    by Darth Busey

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:40 p.m. CST

    I suppose if anyone had to make it...

    by SavageJuicebox

    Shane Black was a good choice. Death Note is a fantastic game of cat and mouse, and I hope he pulls it off.

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:43 p.m. CST

    Ladies and Gent's, Mr. Evans as Captain America

    by RedLeaderStandingBy

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:44 p.m. CST


    by LargoJr

    Final Fantasy bombed because it was stupid. Sony USA panicked when they finally got around to reading the script 2/3 of the way thru production. They demanded massive changes so as not to alienate western viewers, and the film went from being sad and meaningful to becoming outright stupid and pointless. If they had at LEAST left in the part about her sacrificing her unborn child as the new life form to save the world and all life, THAT at least would have made sense.

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 1:48 p.m. CST


    by adml_shake

    Was interesting because it was told from the side of the villain. The problem with the live action movie that came out last year I think, was that the guy that got to play Light was to nice. Even when he was going about his killing he just came off as a nice guy. Where as Light in the anime was nice when he had to be, but around anyone who knew who he really was, was a complete evil ass. He saw people only as he pawns to god hood. Hopefully this version does a better job.

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 2:04 p.m. CST

    The best adaptation was Meth Note

    by estacado1

    Really good stuff.

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 2:10 p.m. CST


    by Lobanhaki2

    Sorry, but Airbender wasn't based on a manga. It was an original series that did quite well, and was quite popular.

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 2:12 p.m. CST

    Shot of Andrew Garfield up IN COSTUME

    by IndustryKiller!

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 2:18 p.m. CST

    man, fuck off

    by spidercoz

    yet another great anime/manga to be raped, set on fire, and left for dead in a ditch somewhere outside Hollywood, thanks assholes

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 2:20 p.m. CST

    Deathblow...when someone wants to kill you not because

    by phifty2

    of who you are but for different reasons alltogether.

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 2:21 p.m. CST

    Who? What?

    by Citizen Sane

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 3:25 p.m. CST


    by gerhard_futkanister

    is my hero

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 4:14 p.m. CST

    no writing? that sucks

    by krod


  • Jan. 13, 2011, 6:12 p.m. CST

    Good to see Shane Black directing another film.

    by manonfire

    Im still waiting in vain for a Kiss Kiss Bang Bang sequel..

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 6:33 p.m. CST

    Death Note is the bomb

    by Psycho_Kenshin

    The anime/manga of course This could be fun if done right with lots of style and metal as fuck

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 6:34 p.m. CST

    What to do when you bored?

    by Psycho_Kenshin

    What better way to kill some time than KILLIN SOME PEOPLE baby, with my main man Ryuk all floating around eatin apples and shit

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 7:10 p.m. CST

    They won't have the balls to do it right!

    by HollywoodHellraiser

    Since this is an "American Adaptation" you can expect this shit to be badly done!

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 8:01 p.m. CST

    Ring like?

    by Kristopher

    How in the nine hells is it anything like the Ring other than being Japanese? Either way it will be another MTV looking garbage dump trying to cater to the drooling masses with their teensy tiny attention spans and IQs

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 8:13 p.m. CST


    by Meadowe

    I thinq he can help out the right franchise if given the chance. He made Gamer semi-watchable for me, and I'm curious to re-watch Butterfly Effect because he's the young Ashton in that one. Anyway that's my two cents.

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 8:42 p.m. CST

    Death Note is the stupidest anime of all time

    by GWARHOL

    Ryuk is fucking awesome though.

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 9:56 p.m. CST

    Death Note: The Note That Eats

    by Nasty In The Pasty

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 9:58 p.m. CST

    Richard Donner directing Lethal Weapon 5?

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Isn't he like eighty now?

  • Jan. 13, 2011, 10:18 p.m. CST

    sounds like someone needs drug money.

    by teamneedle

  • Jan. 14, 2011, 12:10 a.m. CST

    Like the Ring?!!

    by nekomex

    what are you talking about, they have nothing to do with each other. Death Note is not a horror anime, its more a detective/moral dilema type of story. the anime its great, the movies are in my opinion very bad, because they try to emulate the anime and it looks stupid when played by real people. they need to understand that its a different media. to the ones saying that Death Note its for Emo kids, what are you talking about?? yes like a lot of animes its used like hot topic/emo style by teens. but that has nothing to do with the story or the plot.

  • Jan. 14, 2011, 12:39 a.m. CST

    i was a fan of Death Note anime

    by SirBiatchReturns

    but after a while, I just didn't give a shit and stopped somewhere around ep 18. something like that. Am I the only one who experienced this? At a certain point in the narrative, it just didn't matter anymore because of too many coincidences?

  • Jan. 14, 2011, 12:55 a.m. CST

    RE: sirbiatchreturns

    by maelstrom_ZERO

    Nope, many people like you basically stopped watching around that point in the anime. Essentially, the first arc which consisted of Light vs. L was fantastic. The arc afterwards, with Near and Mello, was considered mediocre by practically everyone I've talked to. Although that might be different from what you're talking about. Anyone who hasn't read Deathnote should definitely give it a go. It's basically a detective story told from the villain's perspective, with a superb cat-and-mouse game between the hero and the anti-hero/villain. Imagine the tense drama of The Departed combined with the logic and deduction of Sherlock Holmes (sort of), and you'll get a general idea of what it's like. Unfortunately, I can't imagine the American live-action version of it being very good. The Japanese live-action version was already pretty lousy as-is. Maybe if they do a very loose adaptation instead, it might work. Hrm.

  • Jan. 14, 2011, 3:05 a.m. CST

    Not keen on the source material, but Shane Black can do no wrong

    by KillaKane

    Just wish he could get a greenlight on another of his own scripts; Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was kino-heaven.

  • Jan. 14, 2011, 3:29 a.m. CST

    by TheComedian77

    How can anyone not like Death Note? It's one of the best Mangas there is! I haven't seen the Anime, but you gotta stick with the source material for the best experiance. As for that 'emo' comment, FUCK-OFF. Talk about judging a book by it's cover!!! This WON'T work though. Why? Am I against American remakes? No. Look at the live action films (i've seen one of them).....AWFUL. The reason they don't work is cause you have to condense material, cut sequences and cut characters even. Hello, Mello?! Fucking pointless because even when they animate they cut the shit out of it. Good manga works cause it's told over a series of books. Death Note would have to be HBO or FX or Showtime or AMC; anyone but the movies. Same goes for the EXCELLENT 'Pluto' which is supposedly lensing at some point. It should be a series, it won't be. It should be Europeans - they'll Americanise the shit out of it so it ain't the same universe. Note : the best living artist / writer in comics right now ain't the overrated Alan Moore it's Naoki Urasawa. Phew....Manga rant over.

  • Jan. 14, 2011, 7:24 a.m. CST

    by Psycho_Kenshin

    Not so brosef, the anime is a glorious faithful adaptation done with aplomb, its the best

  • Jan. 14, 2011, 8:06 a.m. CST

    Death Note anime was brilliant for the first 2/3rds

    by Smack_Teddy

    Then it lost me by introducing new characters & minor plots that didnt really go anywhere in the end while seemingly recycling devices for suspense it seemed great at inovating with or developing in unique ways the whole way through so far... Shane Black is a choice that seems very strange in respect of the material, it really is all about playing with Supense & tension and the BSG like moments of never really knowing whats going to happen next based on the dynamic of the characters actions/motivations & the plot development when the shit hits the fan... but he could be really interesting, it certainly aint gonna be like Lethal Weapon or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang... in fact i hate to say it but Nolan would be a great fit for Death Note if he were up for it, no really he would... but Shane Black is...interesting

  • Jan. 14, 2011, 8:11 a.m. CST


    by The_Crimson_King

    this is some of the most exciting movie news I've heard in a while, here's hoping this is the first anime/manga movie to not bomb

  • Jan. 14, 2011, 8:17 a.m. CST

    Jesse McCartney as Raitou (AKA Light)

    by Anna Valerious

    James Woods as the voice of Ryuuk Cillian Murphy as L Ashley Tisdale as Misa I'm not sure who else, but there's that one guy who looks like Johnny Bluejeans from "Saul of the Molemen" in it...Mello? Seriously, unless he's vital, maybe he should be left out. I can't see him being taken seriously in live action.

  • Jan. 14, 2011, 8:34 a.m. CST

    while they're at it, they should make a Persona 3 movie

    by The_Crimson_King

    for realz, if at least so we can have Mitsuru Kirijo brought to life

  • Jan. 14, 2011, 10:08 a.m. CST

    and how about a live action Panty & Stocking?

    by The_Crimson_King

    make it so

  • Jan. 14, 2011, 10:32 a.m. CST

    The Death Note Manga is Excellent!

    by Johnno

    I highly recommend it to all! It's not horror, though it has some elements of it. It's mroe of a thriller, murder, detective story using supernatural elements. Basically a book you could use to kill anyone in the world so long as you know their name and know what they look like. The anime was pretty faithful for the most part but the ending is changed in a pretty significant way, though the outcome is the same. I prefer the manga's ending. The manga is also more detailed, whereas the anime loses some points and also in one case introduces an entire new episode of stuff that never happened in the manga, which wasn't bad. I don't know how some particular things in Detah Note will work if Americanized, but it's doable... Never saw the live action movies. And The Last Airbender was not based on any manga. It was based on the cartoon, and according to fans was not faithful to the characters and sucked all the fun out of it. The only anime adaptation that was awesome and elevated it source material was Speed Racer, but sadly many ludites didn't care for it.

  • Jan. 14, 2011, 11:56 a.m. CST

    James woods would be good Ryuuk yes

    by Smack_Teddy

    was thinking Robert Knepper....