I’m surprised it’s taken this long, but it’s finally happened: An American studio has finally signed the rights to ruin make a live-action movie out of Naruto, one of the best-selling manga in the world and one of the biggest anime hits in the U.S. And they already have a completely unknown director lined up, too. Whee!

Yes, Variety says that LionsGate has signed Michael Gracey to direct the film, who might know from... nothing. IMDB lists him as the director of The Greatest Show on Earth, which is only in pre-production, and nothing else. He was the visual effects supervisor on the 2003 movie Ned Kelly, which was a historical movie about an Australian outlaw and not about magic Japanese ninjas, for whatever that’s worth. Variety lists a couple of other things that Gracey has been attached to, none of which have come out. Also, Avi Arad is producing, so... sigh.

So it seems like LionsGate is going to put all the talent and resources that Fox poured into Dragonball Evolution. I’m sure they had to pay an exorbitant sum for the license—again, it’s very popular around the world in its comic and manga forms—when it appears that it doesn’t believe the franchise warrants spending a few bucks on the guy who’s actually going to make the movie, but whatever. I sincerely doubt that any American studio will “get” Naruto any more than it “got” Dragonball anyways.

The only question is, can America make a live-action Naruto movie that’s better than the real episode where Naruto peed on an obese Japanese Elvis impersonator? I give it 50-50.


Contact the author at rob@io9.com.