Marc Webb, director of the two Amazing Spider-Man films for Sony, has landed a job directing the American remake of the Japanese hit Your Name.
Academy award-winner (and comic book writer) Eric Heisserer is set to write the film. Your Name is being made through a partnership between Toho, Paramount and Bad Robot. Toho will distribute the film in Japan, while Paramount will take point in the rest of the world.
"Marc was our first choice to direct this refashioned interpretation of the film from the moment we explored creating an American version," said Genki Kawamura, who also produced the animated original. "As we saw in (500) Days Of Summer, Marc has a tremendous talent for telling great love stories and in the same way moviegoers were captivated by the original film, we are certain Marc will engage fans of the original and an entirely new audience for these characters' beautiful journey. With J.J. Abrams producing, Eric Heisserer writing and Marc directing, this project officially has the team we dreamed about."
According to Deadline, in the reimagined version, a young Native American woman living in a rural area and a young man from Chicago discover they are magically and intermittently swapping bodies. When a disaster threatens to upend their lives, they must journey to meet and save their worlds.
Heisserer, who recently had a big hit with Netflix's Bird Box, said that he "found it an interesting challenge" because of the desires of the Japanese rights holders. According to him, they specifically wanted an American live-action version of the film.
"You have to find the best iteration of that story based on the fact that they want an American live-action version of the film," Heisserer said. "They stated if they wanted a Japanese live-action version, they would just do it themselves. But they want to see it through the lens of a western viewpoint."
The core of the property remains intact, but the characters have obviously been radically altered.
Makoto Shinkai's Your Name is one of the most successful anime features of all time. The 2016 film outperformed iconic films like Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away and certainly has universal appeal, but is uniquely Japanese. It tells the story of two teenagers who discover they can swap bodies and must work together -- despite being separated by time and space -- to prevent an impending disaster, and it features distinctive touches that center the story culturally as Japanese.
Your Name is just the latest in a string of popular Japanese animated properties being adapted into live-action projects for the American market. Others have included Ghost in the Shell, Death Note, and the upcoming Alita: Battle Angel.
When it was announced in late 2017 that Your Name would be receiving a Hollywood live-action adaptation, concerns about whitewashing cropped up almost immediately. With the revelation that the film will follow entirely different characters with an Americanized backstory, that conversation will be more complex than just dropping a white, American actor into the role of a Japanese character and moving forward.
Though Your Name director Makoto Shinkai said he was "looking forward" to the adaptation when it was announced, he seemed somewhat less interested in later statements.1comments
"While I'm looking forward to how it will go," he reportedly said in November 2017, "I also think how it will grow is up to himself [the film] because it has already left my hand."
No firm release date has yet been set for the Your Name adaptation.