Is Gus Van Sant Replacing Shane Black On Death Note?


A film adaptation of the popular manga series Death Note has been brewing for some time now, and last we heard about the project, Iron Man 3 helmer Shane Black was working with his The Nice Guys co-writer Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry on a new iteration of the script. The movie is set up at Warner Bros., which has a strong relationship with Black thanks to the Lethal Weapon franchise and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, so his involvement seemed like a done deal. However, now we’re hearing that Black might no longer be involved with Death Note, and his replacement is none other than Milk director Gus Vant Sant.

Death Note, an English-language adaptation of the manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, follows a high school student who finds a mysterious notebook that allows him to instantly kill any person by writing their name within its pages. As the body count grows and the student goes on a crusade to rid the world of evil, a genius detective named L is dispatched to track and apprehend him. Meanwhile, the student grows closer to encountering the extra-dimensional death gods responsible for the book in the first place.

Before we go any further, news of Van Sant’s involvement comes from sometimes-reliable insider site The Tracking Board, which recently broke the still-unconfirmed report that Chris Columbus is producing Gremlins and Goonies sequels. But if it is true, Van Sant seems an odd choice, having made his mark mostly with emotional dramas like Milk (about gay rights crusader and politician Harvey Milk) and inspirational classic Good Will Hunting.

However, his filmography isn’t entirely devoid of material somewhat comparable to Death Note. Van Sant did direct a Psycho reboot back in 1998, and his film Paranoid Park dealt with a young man who kills a security guard and is haunted by the act later – not exactly the same as a mass-murdering kid, to be sure, but perhaps the project that brought him to Warner Bros.’ attention.

We’ll keep you posted as Death Note develops. It certainly seems like an intriguing project, though whether audiences will want to root for a teenaged serial killer in today’s sociopolitical climate remains to be seen.