Director Kevin Munroe may be hard at work finishing up the anticipated TMNT, Warner Bros.’ new CG-animated film, but even with all of the last minute preparation on the movie, he’s finding time to move on to other Imagi projects when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film is complete.
Although he was scheduled to work on Cat’s Tale next, the project is no longer in the works and producer Tom Gray told ComingSoon.net that Munroe will be moving onto an animated movie based on “Gatchaman,” also commonly known as “Battle of the Planets.”
“We just finished an anime ‘The Highlander’ with Kawajiri in Japan, and our owner, Francis Kao was the one that said, ‘I don’t want to do happy talking animals anymore. I want to do what I remember as a kid growing up in Asia, that it was ‘Gatchaman” and it was ‘Astro Boy’ and that’s what I want to make.’ And we’ve acquired those rights. Kevin is going on to do ‘Gatchaman’ as his next project,” Gray said. “This is one we’re going PG-13 definitely, even maybe pushing R.”
With respect to “The Highlander,” Gray explained what can be done in anime that wasn’t covered in film and TV: “This was an experimental project. We owned at one point Madhouse in Japan, which is not the top tier but it’s in the second tier level of anime houses. And we wanted to do a project that’s taking a western iconic project and do it in the anime process. It wasn’t easy because the Japanese in anime, the director is the director. There is no producer coming and giving notes. He gets up in the morning, he goes there and this is the way the movie’s going to go. They don’t follow conventional storylines of beginning, middle and end. It’s really whatever they feel like.
“But with Kawajiri, we were able to get him to tell the story in a more traditional western way. All the ‘Spirited Away’ and all the ones that have gone on have not really rocketed hugely overseas because in our opinion, they’re not as accessible in the story. Visually, they’re phenomenal and we love it but it’s story for us and the Japanese don’t necessarily have happy endings. So it was a bit of a trial of getting this thing done but it turned out really interesting, designed totally for the DVD market. We had no theatrical ambitions other than in Europe we’ll go, in France and a few other places. It was our attempt to try to take a hybrid so to speak and see if we could pull it off. We’re out there now and the results have been pretty interesting.”
In addition, Gray confirmed the story will still be about the MacLeod.
“Yeah, it’s a time travel back. It has all the characteristics of the ‘Highlander’ series but kind of wrapped up in Kawajiri’s mind of how his interpretation of the Highlander would be. A lot of similarity between samurai and Highlander, the clans and the swords and everything else. I mean, it was really difficult because of translation and if we pull it off, we’ll look at other projects that we want to do but the company wants to push it.”