Lionsgate has been trying to mount a live-action adaptation of popular manga series Naruto for a long while, and that project is making some major advances today with word that up-and-coming helmer Michael Gracey is being tapped to direct by the studio.
The project is still expected to follow the adventures of Naruto Uzumaki, a young ninja-in-training who hopes to one day become the Hokage, known as the most powerful ninja of his hometown village.
The Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto has become massively popular around the world, emerging as the third highest-selling manga in history. It has already been adapted multiple times, including as an anime series and in eleven animated features.
The Tracking Board first reported Gracey’s involvement, stating that the pic is a priority for Lionsgate as other manga series adaptations like Death Note (over at Warner Bros., with The Guest‘s Adam Wingard attached) and Ghost in the Shell (which has Scarlett Johansson starring and Rupert Sanders helming for Paramount) are picking up speed around Hollywood.
Gracey started out in visual effects and animation before making the jump to feature directing. He’s lined up some killer projects around town, too, including an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches at Warner Bros., a pair of celebrity biopics (one about Jim Henson called Muppet Man and another centered on Elton John called Rocketman), and P.T. Barnum musical The Greatest Showman on Earth. It’s unclear whether any of those projects will come before Naruto though.
Avi Arad, a prolific producer who is known for his hand in Sony’s Spider-Man franchise, is attached to produce through Arad Productions, while Erik Feig, Geoff Shaveitz, and Kelly O’Malley will oversee Naruto for Lionsgate.
As I’m sure many of you are fans of either the manga or anime series that’s being drawn upon here, what do you make of this news? Do you want to see a live-action Naruto movie, or should the property stay on the small screen and in the pages of the manga?