The planned live-action Naruto movie was announced, but little news has come regarding the anime adaptation. Starting out as a manga series from Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto is the story of a young ninja ostracized from his village due to a demonic fox housed inside his body. Naruto was soon adapted into an anime series, and this helped earn the franchise a passionate worldwide following, that it still enjoys today, despite the main series having already concluded.

As one of the premier anime exports in the West, Naruto is prime material for Hollywood adaptation, but it certainly isn’t the first Japanese property to attract international suitors. Dragon Ball Z gave rise to Dragonball Evolution, Scarlett Johansson starred in Ghost in the Shell and Netflix released a live-action version of Death Note. The common denominator between that trio of movies is a distinct lack of quality, but there remain a handful of Western anime productions in the pipeline, including the long-awaited Naruto movie.

Despite years of silence regarding the project, the Naruto live-action movie has signed a new writer to pen the script. Screenwriter Tasha Huo has been brought on board for the project, and she is something of an up-and-comer in Hollywood writing circles. Huo has written the upcoming Red Sonja adaptation and the animated Tomb Raider series based on the video game franchise. This is the first big development in the long-gestating film which was announced nearly a decade ago. It is possible that more news will be on the horizon soon.

It’s been the better part of a decade since the Naruto movie was announced by Lionsgate, with the official reveal coming in mid-2015. Since projects are announced all the time which never come to fruition, it seemed entirely possible that the project was simply not going to happen. However, the arrival of a new screenwriter is proof that the Naruto movie is moving forward, albeit much slower than anyone could have anticipated.

Considering recent updates, the live-action Naruto movie is still in the very early days of pre-production, and it will likely be a while before it moves forward. The new script draft is an exciting update, but it does indicate that the movie has yet to fully solidify, and there is no way to accurately predict exactly when it will begin to shift into production. The movie has already been simmering for nearly a decade, and there is clearly no rush to get Naruto rolling.

Although details have been scarce, Avi Arad is still set to produce through his own company. Arad is most widely associated with Sony’s Marvel releases and also worked on the live-action Ghost In The Shell adaptation. As well as giving the Naruto movie a sense of legitimacy, Arad’s involvement promises high-production values and polished action set-pieces. Michael Gracey (The Greatest Showman) is slated to direct, and screenwriter Tasha Huo was brought on in 2023 to pen a new draft of the script.

Though it may seem easy to adapt such a popular property, the main thing that has been holding up the live-action Naruto film is that a good story has yet to materialize. Many other live-action anime adaptations have been met with derision by fans, and director Michael Gracey didn’t want to move forward unless things were right. In 2018, Gracey explained that “until that script is at a level that I’m excited about, I have no interest in destroying an amazing franchise” (via Collider), and that could explain why the live-action Naruto movie has languished in production hell for so long.

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