By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 13, 2011 at 6:49AM
Shane Black, who rose to fame penning films like "Lethal Weapon," "The Last Boy Scout" and "The Monster Squad," made his return to Hollywood after a long absence with the witty action comedy "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." It didn't exactly light up the box office -- it made back its $15 million budget in worldwide gross -- but it did help relaunch the career of Robert Downey Jr. and it proved that Black's sharp pen hadn't diminished.
Well, Warner Bros. are hoping that Black's unique approach to action will be the right fit for "Death Note," a live-action adaptation of a wildly popular manga that they've hired him to direct. Written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, the story follows "Light, 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." The property is hugely popular in Japan and has spawned a trilogy of films, videogames, a television series and more.
The film is being written Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry, who also penned "Doc Savage," a project Black signed on to last year for Sony and still looks like will be his next directorial vehicle.
No word yet on when "Death Note" is being planned for or even if it will be the a project Black goes to after "Doc Savage." He has apparently received offers on a handful of studio projects and has a few spec scripts and old ideas of his own kicking around. At any rate, it seems Warner Bros. is eager to continue trying to make Japanese franchises work on North American soil despite the big budget "Speed Racer" flopping hard. The two-part "Akira" is still in development with the Hughes Brothers at the helm, and now with "Death Note" it looks like the studio wants those international bucks in a big way.