Amblin TV’s Rashomon Series Acquired by HBO Max
It’s been two years since word first broke that Amblin TV was developing a series adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s acclaimed drama Rashomon and now the studio has revealed it is partnering with HBO Max for the forthcoming project.
“I am delighted to work with Amblin Partners and HBO Max to reimagine Rashomon for today’s audience,” Hisao Kurosawa, son of the iconic director, said in a statement. “I am excited to see my dad’s vision through this inspirational story kept alive and made accessible to a new generation.”
The series, which is being penned by Oscar nominees Billy Ray (The Comey Rule) and Virgil Williams (Mudbound), will not be a direct adaptation of the 1950 classic but rather will retain its key plot device of a drama centering a grisly sexual assault and murder and unraveling the mystery through the characters’ competing narratives over the course of a ten-episode series set in the modern day.
“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, Amblin Partners’ Co-Presidents, said in a statement. “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.”
Frank and Falvey (The Americans, The Haunting of Hill House) are attached to executive produce the series alongside Mark Canton (Power) of Atmosphere Entertainment, Leigh Ann Burton of Opus7 Entertainment and David Hopwood (Den of Thieves), with SVP of Television Development Todd Cohen set to oversee the day-to-day development of the project.
“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,” Canton said in a statement. “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.”
The original film, co-written by Kurosawa and Shinobu Hasimoto and directed by the former, revolves around the rape of a bride and the murder of her samurai husband and sees the story told from four different perspectives, that of a bandit, the bride, a woodcutter and the ghost of the samurai.
It received rave reviews from critics worldwide except for those from its country of origin and is widely considered as the first to put Japanese filmmaking onto the world stage, winning several awards including an Academy Honorary Award at the 24th Academy Awards in 1952 and consistently appears on numerous lists for the best films of all time.
Kurosawa’s previous work has been adapted for international audiences before, with Seven Samurai becoming the 1960 western classic The Magnificent Seven and Yojimbo acting as both an inspiration and source material for numerous works, including the official remakes A Fistful of Dollars, which spawned its own trilogy starring Clint Eastwood (The Mule) in the lead role, and Last Man Standing starring Bruce Willis (Death Wish), as well as influencing an episode of the acclaimed animated series Samurai Jack.