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Takashi Miike is legendary. Creating the highest quality Japanese films for the past 20 years, the director terrified us with his disturbing look at obsession in Audition, shocked us with the sadomasochistic hero Ichi the Killer, and took us into a beautifully rendered feudal Japan with 13 Assassins. His most recent effort had him behind the wheel of Ninja Kids!!!, a fun romp around a ninja academy for youngsters.
Not surprisingly, Ninja Kids!!! has stirred interest in Hollywood and according to THR negotiations are already underway to snatch up the rights and churn out a remake where the actors speak English instead of Japanese. This news comes only one month after the film started showing in Japan and appeared at the New York Asian Film Festival.
The film is based on a long-running manga series that is currently enjoying a run in anime form on Japanese TV, but the question will have to be whether or not America gives a shit about ninjas. James McTeigue's English-language Ninja Assassin only managed to pull $38 million domestically which does not bode well for other ninja transfers. The child ninja thing has been done before in the form of two of my favorite movies as a kid, 3 Ninjas and Surf Ninja, but even though I love them, they barely made enough money to cover the dry cleaning.
The Last Airbender, an American series nonetheless inspired by Japanese animation and martial arts, managed to make a boatload of cash, though was critically panned and fans of the original series hated it. That obviously didn’t stop people from showing up, so it’s possible that the draw was just young people kicking ass, which there will be a lot of in Ninja Kids!!!. It’s entirely possible enough kids, coupled with Miike’s built-in fan base, will bring in some dough.
The interest issue notwithstanding, foreign remakes are one of the most obvious ways Hollywood big shots grasp as consumers’ cash, and that they barely waited a month to try and get rolling with Ninja Kids!!! means they’ve officially decided to be unapologetic about it. Overture at least had the decency to wait about a year and a half before starting work with Let Me In.