The next big thing in Hollywood looks to be adapting Japanese anime into American live-action films. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions has Akira in the works with Warner Bros, while The Walking Dead’s Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment has a version of the giant robot Gaiking on the horizon. And James Cameron’s Battle Angel, based on the popular anime series Battle Angel Alita, has been in development since the release of Avatar in 2009. The latest live-action anime adaptation comes from director Christopher McQuarrie, who is set to take on a live-action Star Blazers movie.
According to Deadline, McQuarrie will write and direct a new version of the 1970s series Star Blazers for Skydance Productions and (most likely) Paramount Pictures. Of course, Star Blazers is the Americanized version of the anime Space Battleship Yamato, which ran for three seasons in Japan in 1974, 1978, and 1980. The title was changed when it arrived to American audiences in 1979. McQuarrie, Josh C. Kline, David Ellison, and Dana Goldberg will produce the new film, while Shouji Nizhizaki and Paul Schwake will serve as executive producers.
Star Blazers takes place in the future when Earth was violently attacked by the Gamilonians, an alien race from a distant planet. Because of the deadly radiation from Gamilon’s bombs, humanity is forced underground because all life on Earth will die off in one year. With no signs of hope, Queen Starsha of the planet Iscandar, which is 148,000 light years away from Earth, offers the humans a device called “Cosmo DNA” that will remove the radiation. The Queen gives provides the blueprints for a “Wave Motion Engine” that will help them get to her planet in time. Captain Avatar recruits a small crew to outfit the old Space Battleship Yamato with the new engine.
McQuarrie started his career in Hollywood as a screenwriter, working with director Bryan Singer on The Usual Suspects and Valkyrie, and Doug Liman on the upcoming Edge of Tomorrow. That last one also happens to be based on the Japanese Manga All You Need Is Kill. He made his directorial debut with the The Way of the Gun, and the recently helmed the Tom Cruise vehichle Jack Reacher. McQuarrie’s next project will be the fifth installment in the Mission: Impossible franchise, scheduled to go into production in 2014.
Skydance wants McQuarrie to turn Star Blazers into a new franchise that would fall in line with Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. Star Blazers’ serialized brand of storytelling with an overall larger story should have enough material for at least a new trilogy. It remains to be seen adapting Japanese properties will succeed with English-speaking audiences. All the projects listed are still in development, so who knows? The closest American movie to adapt Japanese anime is Pacific Rim, which has anime elements, but not based on anything that previously existed.
If you’re interested ALL of the episodes of Star Blazers are available to watch for FREE on YouTube.