HBO Max Picks Up Rashomon Series Based on Akira Kurosawa Film

HBO Max has picked up the long in-development TV version of Rashomon which is set up at Amblin Television. Though taking its cues from the iconic Akira Kurosawa film in terms of structure, the series will be set in modern day with each episode presenting "the perceived truth" of an individual character, making each the center of the story and retelling the events surrounding a murder from their "unique, self-serving point of view.” Billy Ray of Captain Phillips and the upcoming The Comey Rule along with Mudbound co-writer Virgil Williams have been tapped as writers for the new streaming series.

In a statement they wrote: “Our partnership on ‘Rashomon’ is based on our mutual pledge to make every single episode, every scene, and every character of this show a loving homage to Kurosawa’s talent as an artist. That’s our true north."

Even if you've never seen the original film, which is set in the 8th Century in Japan, you no doubt know its structure as Rashomon is widely regarded as one of the best movies ever made. The narrative flow of the different perspective of characters witnessing the same event has been parodied and referenced throughout film and television. There's even a term regarding how unreliable eye witness testimony is known as the "Rashomon effect."

Development on the series comes with the blessing of the Kurosawa family, with the son of Akira Kurosawa, Hisao Kurosawa adding, “I am delighted to work with Amblin Partners and HBO Max to reimagine ‘Rashomon’ for today’s audience. I am excited to see my dad’s vision through this inspirational story kept alive and made accessible to a new generation."

“Truth has become increasingly fractured in this age of cable news and social media’s ‘say it and it’s true’ culture,” Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, co-presidents of television for Amblin Partners added. “Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece was not just a murder mystery; it was a revolution in storytelling, as cinema’s most impactful and influential early exploration of subjective points of view and flawed narration. Seventy years after the film’s release, the legacy of ‘Rashomon’ is indisputable and its central themes more relevant than ever. Our series will honor the impact of the original work and explore the age-old concept of objective truth versus subjective perspective in our modern times.”

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“It takes a lot of hard work to make the stars align and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to create an original take on ‘Rashomon’ – a masterpiece from a true genius of cinema – for new audiences, with the full support and blessing of the Kurosawa family,” said Mark Canton of Atmosphere Entertainment. “Not only that, but to be doing so in partnership with my friends and colleagues at Amblin Television, as well as the brilliantly talented Billy Ray and Virgil Williams, is truly the convergence of hard work and good fortune that every producer hopes for.”

News of the Rashomon series at HBO Max comes after it was revealed the streamer has ordered a spin-off of James Gunn's The Suicide Squad starring John Cena's Peacemaker. The streamer is making big strides in its original content with renewals for Harley Quinn and Raised By Wolves also making headlines in recent days.