Director James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) has begun shooting a live action movie known as Ninja Assassin at the same Berlin studio where the Wachowski Bros. (who are producing Ninja Assassin) directed Speed Racer. Warner Bros., the studio behind Ninja Assassin, hasn’t released any information concerning the plot of the film, which stars the Korean pop idol Ji-Hoon “Rain” Jung, but the casting list put out by the studio contains character names that bear a striking resemblance to the characters in Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s classic anime Ninja Scroll (which is available in a deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition from Manga Entertainment). Since the Wachowskis, who have just finished making one anime-based movie in Speed Racer, have often expressed their admiration for Ninja Scroll, which they cited as an influence on The Matrix, the notion that Ninja Assassin is a live action remake of Ninja Scroll is hardly farfetched.
Although the live action version of Neon Genesis Evangelion has not yet gotten off the ground, the production of Speed Racer and Dragon Ball, and the fact that Leonaro DiCaprio’s two-part production of Akira is set up at Warner Bros. (see “DiCaprio Snags Akira Rights”), indicate that a trend toward anime-based live action features is starting to take hold in Hollywood. Whether this trend will expand or wither will depend on the success or failure of films such as Speed Racer and Akira.