Naruto Movie in the Works with Destin Daniel Cretton

Naruto, one of the most popular mangas of all time, is headed to the big-screen.

Destin Daniel Cretton, who co-wrote and directed the Marvel Studios movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, has been tapped to pen and helm a live-action adaptation of the title for Lionsgate.

Cretton will also produced alongside Jeyun Munford through his company, Hisako. The duo join Avi Arad, Ari Arad and Emmy Yu of Arad Productions, who are behind the studio’s upcoming video game adaptation Borderlands, and Jeremy Latcham (Dungeons & Dragons).

Created by Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto was a coming-of-age story focused on a young and enthusiastic ninja named Naruto Uzumaki who wants to grow up to be the leader of his ninja village but also happens to have the spirit of a dragon inside him. The story was serialized in Japan’s popular Weekly Shonen Jump from 1999 to 2014, tracking the character’s coming-of-age, friendships, and many super-powered ninja battles.

In that time, it became one or the world’s most popular intellectual properties, with over 250 million copies of the collected volumes sold in more than 60 countries and territories. It also launched several animated series that ran for years on Cartoon Network, Disney XD, Adult Swim, and other networks. IT has been adapted into video game form and continues to be a merchandizing juggernaut. Naruto has essentially been building hardcore fans around the world for 25 years.

Cretton has Kishimoto’s blessing, something bestowed upon him after a visit to Tokyo.

“When I heard of Destin’s attachment, it happened to be right after watching a blockbuster action film of his, and I thought he would be the perfect director for Naruto,” said Kishimoto in a statement. “After enjoying his other films and understanding that his forte is in creating solid dramas about people, I became convinced that there is no other director for Naturo. In actually meeting Destin, I also found him to be an open-minded director who was willing to embrace my input, and felt strongly that we would be able to cooperate together in the production process.”

The adaptation has been in development with Lionsgate since late 2015 and Cretton’s boarding marks a significant leap forward in getting it to the screen.

Enthused Lionsgate Motion Picture Group chair Adam Fogelson, “This manga classic is beloved by millions of fans all around the world, and Destin has delivered a vision for the movie that we believe will excite that massive fan base as well as those who are new to it. Avi and I have had the pleasure of working together before and I know that as we collaborate with Destin and the team on Naruto, we are in extraordinary hands.”

Cretton previously collaborated with Lionsgate on the The Glass Castle, the 2017 drama he helmed that starred Brie Larson. The studio’s James Myers, who oversaw that project, will also oversee Naruto, alongside exec Jon Humphrey.

Cretton, who counts award-winner Short Term 12 and Just Mercy amongst his credits, is currently developing a sequel to Shang-Chi. He last directed several episodes of American Born Chinese, Disney+’s adaptation of the graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang that he also executive produced.  

He is repped by WME and Goodman Genow.

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