Live Action Anime
Hollywood has long been profiteering off ‘adaptations’, by buying the rights to use the stories, concepts, and characters developed in other mediums. Adaptations have become popular, because not only does this relieve writers of the burden to come up with original stories, it’s also a relatively non-risk investment for Hollywood producers because of its existing fan base. This also saves them money otherwise spent on endless market research, allowing them to calculate box office intakes much more clearly.
Originally, remaking novels was the most common form of adaptations, but this has extended to include Comic books, television shows, toys (Hasbro’s Transformers), and now anime. There are dozen’s of film projects currently being developed which use an anime as original sources for their story. Some of these include: Cowboy Bebop, Death Note, Akira, Lupine the third, and Full Metal Panic. While most of these projects are unlikely to make it to the big screen, the fact that producers are willing to fork out money to buy the rights to these titles shows that they have a keen interest, and that we may see more potential remakes in the future.
There are a number of benefits of having a series remade in Hollywood, but only two of which we will discuss here. The first is, obviously, the profits made by selling the rights of the title to the Hollywood studio. The amount that they make, of course, from these deals depends on how well they are able to negotiate, as well as the anime studio’s bargaining power. Studio Ghibli, for example, would have much more bargaining power when negotiating a deal than, say, Studio 4 C. Secondly, the exposure gained from having a anime title remade can be enormous. If the series being remade to a film is an ongoing one it would draw new fans to the anime therefore driving up their T.V viewer numbers. Even a series that has ended can benefit from such exposure as most anime studio’s foreign profit (foreign to Japan that is) comes from DVD sales anyway. There are other benefits of course, but these are mostly dependent on circumstance including: Rejuvinating interest in a series, greater exposure, and a newfound respect.
There are, however, some serious implications associated with remakes that anime studio’s need to take into account. One is the potential damage an anime remake can do to the original brand. I’m sure you have all seen (or at least heard) of the puerile attempt to remake the Dragon Ball franchise. But while, in this case, the original material escaped the movie’s scorn, a lesser known series may not. I can’t imagine audience’s giving the same leeway to ‘Denno Coil’, as they did for Dragon Ball and Speed Racer.
Another problem with film adaptation is deciding how much control the buyer will have when recreating the original story. J.K Rowling would not allow studio’s to diverge from the novel’s story, and characters (she requested that all actors be British). There are instances, however, when movie studios not only ‘adapted’ a novel, but also restructured it, taking only names and settings. These are issues anime studios should try to avoid, lest another ‘Dragon ball: evolution’ is remade.
My recommendations for Live action anime remake's:
Astro Boy - I can picture this being a less serious, sci-fi, futuristic version of 'AI: Artificial Intelligence'
Laputa: castle in the sky: Why Peter Jackson hasn't attempted remaking this anime classic is baffling
Vampire Hunter D: I think a good story can transcend a medium, and this is a good story.
Paranoia Agent: Its psychological noir like themes fit perfectly with the live action medium