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Lionsgate Acquires Rights To ‘Naruto’; Hires Director
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This year The Hunger Games franchise, one of Lionsgate’s most successful and lucrative franchises, comes to an end, unless they follow that up with spinoffs and/or prequels. But if it were truly to end, then the studio would need to find another brand. They recently acquired the rights to the Power Rangers movie, and have already hired Project Almanac‘s Dean Israelite to direct the film, although a January release doesn’t bode well for it.

However, they may be banking on an adaptation of Naruto, a popular Japanese anime and manga written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto, to be their next big franchise. More on this story below.

According to Variety, Lionsgate has just signed to a deal for the rights to Naruto, and hired Michael Gracey to direct its adaptation.

The series was first published back in 1999 after gaining a massive fan base with its 1997 one-shot manga. After its 15 year run, the series came to an end in 2014, but then launched a miniseries surrounding the young children main characters.

Avi Arad will produce the film, which may be somewhat of a disappointment to those to love the anime and manga. Erik Feig, Geoff Shaveitz, and Kelly O’Malley will oversee for the studio. As for Gracey, he is a bit of an unknown himself. He’s a visual effects specialist who is making the move to directorial efforts, and is currently attached to Universal’s adaptation of the New York Times best-seller Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the Elton John biopic Rocketman with Tom Hardy attached, and Fox’s P.T. Barnum biopic The Greatest Showman on Earth.

Since there is a lot of material to work with, finding the right story for Naruto to start off with is key. Remember there is more than 15 years worth of story to work with, plus the anime had fillers – something fans of the manga were unhappy with when they had to wait for the main story to return from production hiatus.

For those who may not know what Naruto is, the popular Manga is centered on a young boy named Naruto, who, because he has a demon fox sealed inside of him, is an outcast of his home, the Hidden Village of the Leaf. With dreams of becoming the Hokage, the leader of the village, Naruto proves that he can be the defender the village needs. Alongside his friends Sakura and Sauske, Naruto goes on all sorts of adventures improving his skills as a ninja but learning that there is much more to become Hokage than first thought.

No word yet on who Gracey or the studio may be looking at to play the lead role or when production will start. The studio also didn’t announce a tentative release date.

[Source: The Tracking Board | Variety]

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