death note netflix

Yesterday, a Hollywood Reporter story revealed that Warner Bros. doesn’t want to take risks on smaller projects in the wake of Batman v Superman‘s tumultuous box office and will make fewer movies, focusing on major tentpole releases. We may already be seeing the impact of this new policy: director Adam Wingard‘s adaptation of Death Note has been dropped by the studio. Thankfully, Netflix arrived to pick it up.

The Wrap reports that the transition was actually fairly amicable. When Warner Bros. decided to not move forward with film (which was already very deep in development), they allowed Wingard and his producers the chance to shop it around to other studios. While many studios nibbled, Netflix bit. Negotiations are currently under way and The Wrap says that a deal should be reached soon. Interestingly, they add that this is the second Wingard film to lose traction at Warner Bros., the first being Dead Spy Running.

Based on the Japanese manga series of the same name, Death Note follows a teenager who acquires a mysterious notebook that will kill anyone whose name is written in it. He sets out to reshape the world with his newfound powers and a detective gives chase. The cast already includes Paper Towns star Nat Wolff and The Leftovers star Margaret Qualley and the film was apparently very close to shooting. The fact that producer Roy Lee promised an R rating may have had something to do with the studio getting cold feet – an R-rated thriller based on a series that most Americans aren’t familiar with doesn’t have a home at the new risk-averse Warner Bros.

In the end, I’m just happy to see a major player like Netflix adding Adam Wingard to their camp because this guy is the real deal. You’re Next and The Guest may not have lit the box office on fire, but they’re damn good movies. Wingard knows how to juggle tones, blending pitch black comedy and gruesome violence and nerve-wracking tension like nobody’s business. He’s the exact kind of filmmaker who should be out there making modesty budgeted thrillers that don’t play by ordinary rules. Netflix, who always seems to be about two steps ahead of the curve these days, gets that.

Time will tell how Warner Bros.’ new strategy fares for them. I wish them no ill, but focusing only one major tentpole superhero movies after your latest tentpole superhero movie misfires feels like a weird call. Netflix just got a new Adam Wingard movie out of this mess. They’re the real winners here.

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