Lethal Weapon’s Shane Black to Write and Direct Death Note Remake

Warner Bros. has just tapped “Lethal Weapon” creator Shane Black to write and direct their remake of the immensely popular Japanese manga/anime/live-action movie “Death Note”. Black will once again be working with Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry, the same duo he’s currently wrestling the “Doc Savage” script with.

Written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, Death Note was originally published in Japan and later collected in 12 trade paperbacks that have sold more than 38 million copies worldwide. The protagonist, Light, is a bright student who stumbles across a mystical notebook that has the power to kill any person whose name he writes in it. Light decides to launch a secret crusade to rid the streets of criminals. Soon, the student-turned-vigilante finds himself pursued by a famous FBI criminal profiler known only by the alias L. Death Note is wildly popular in Japan and has been turned into live action and animated films, an animated TV series, novels and vidgames. The trio of live action films were distributed by Warner Bros Japan. Warner Bros acquired the manga rights from Shueisha and previously got a script draft from Charley and Vlas Parlapanides.

Apparently Black is a big fan of the original manga, but then again, isn’t that what every filmmaker says when they’re getting ready to adapt something that was popular in another form? He says:

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.

Sounds great, but I doubt if it’ll have much impact on all the original fans who will be crying foul over the fact that there’s even an American remake in the offering.

Black made a huge splash back in the ’80s when he penned “Lethal Weapon” on spec, then parlayed that success into scripts for “The Last Boy Scout” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight”, both of which he was paid an obscene amount of money for, even in today’s dollars. Black got into directing with 2005’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” with Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr., and as mentioned, is currently working on another adaptation of the Doc Savage character.

Trailer for the Japanese original movie: