Spielberg fights for rights to Japanese thriller

DreamWorks has acquired rights to the Japanese manga “Ghost in the Shell” with plans to adapt the futuristic police thriller as a 3-D live-action feature.

Story follows the exploits of a member of a covert ops unit of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission that specializes in fighting technology-related crime.

Created by Masamune Shirow, “Ghost in the Shell” was first published in 1989 by Kodansha, one of the largest publishing companies in Japan. It went on to generate two additional manga editions, three anime film adaptations, an anime TV series and three videogames. The second anime film, “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence,” was released in the U.S. by DreamWorks in 2004. Production IG produced all the anime.

Avi Arad, Ari Arad and Steven Paul of Seaside Entertainment are attached to produce and brought the project to the studio. The rights deal was brokered in Japan by Filosphia’s Tetsu Fujimora. He will exec produce with Mistuhisa Ishikawa. Jamie Moss has been tapped to pen the adaptation.

Universal and Sony were also chasing “Ghost in the Shell,” but Steven Spielberg took personal interest in the property and made it happen at DreamWorks.

” ‘Ghost in the Shell’ is one of my favorite stories,” Spielberg said. “It’s a genre that has arrived, and we enthusiastically welcome it to DreamWorks.”

DreamWorks prexy of production Adam Goodman said “Ghost in the Shell” is a property “that epitomizes 3-D live-action motion picture possibilities.”

Avi Arad is at the forefront of comicbook-based material, having produced the three “Spider-Man” films, the three “X-Men” movies, the two “Fantastic Four” picss and the upcoming “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk.”

Moss’ writing credits include “Street Kings,” which bowed Friday, and “Last Man Home,” in development at Universal.

Click here to read Variety’s review of “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.”

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