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Another Kind of Lethal Weapon: Shane Black to Direct Live-Action DEATH NOTE Movie

Considering the overwhelming popularity of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s Death Note manga, the announcement of an American live-action adaptation a couple years ago was hardly surprising.

But in the first bit of real news on the project since then, Warner Bros. has thrown fans a major curve, hiring legendary screenwriter Shane Black to direct the film, as reported by Deadline.


Black will also share writing duties with Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry, with whom he is writing a Doc Savage adaptation for Sony, which he has already committed to direct. He hasn’t yet decided which film he will make first.

This will be the fourth live-action adaptation of Death Note, which centers on a high school student who stumbles upon the titular notebook belonging to a rogue Shinigami (a death god), with the power to kill anyone whose name is written in his pages. The student, Light, sets out to kill every criminal he can find in order to create his vision of a perfect world, but runs afoul of the world’s greatest detective, the enigmatic L. Black cites the manga as his favorite, telling Deadline, “What we want to do is take it back to that manga, and make it closer to what is so complex and truthful about the spirituality of the story, versus taking the concept and trying to copy it as an American thriller.”

Best known as the writer of Lethal Weapon, Black helped define the modern action movie with that script, which he sold straight out of UCLA. Other screenplays include The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight, which were at one point the most expensive scripts ever sold. Black dropped out of sight after the latter film was released, but re-emerged in 2005 to write and direct the quirky noir satire Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which received much critical acclaim.

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