Lionsgate Finds A Director For 'Naruto' Movie

If Lionsgate bringing Power Rangers back to the big screen isn't doing anything for you, maybe importing another popular Japanese property will do the trick.

The studio that brought you The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Expendables is adapting the insanely popular manga Naruto for a feature film, and they've even got a director lined up for the project already. Find out more about the Naruto movie after the jump!

The Tracking Board and Variety report Lionsgate just closed a deal for the rights to the Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. If you're not familiar with the series, here's a very general description:

Deep within the Hidden Leaf Village, young ninja Naruto Uzumaki carries sealed within him the spirit of the Nine-Tailed Fox, which once almost destroyed the village. Always an outcast because of his secret, and hoping to one day become the Hokage, the village ninja who serves as protector and leader, Naruto battles alongside his teammates Sasuke and Sakura to prove to himself and everyone else that he's the greatest ninja ever. But he's got a long list of challenges to face before he gets there!

Avi Arad is producing the series, which may disappoint some fans, and the director is an untested talent on the big screen as well. Michael Gracey has been lined up to be at the helm of the film, a visual effects specialist who has been attached to several big screen projects over the years, but has yet to get behind the camera for them.

Gracey's developing projects include The Witches at Warner Bros. for producers Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo del Toro, the Jim Henson biopic Muppet Man, the Elton John biopic Rocketman with Tom Hardy, and the P.T. Barnum musical The Greatest Showman on Earth. Though none of these projects have made much progress, I suppose it's encouraging that Gracey has been considered talented enough to take on these films. It's likely not his fault that they haven't moved forward, that's just Hollywood

Naruto is a huge property for Lionsgate to bring to the big screen as the third highest-selling manga in the history of the medium, and it has a worldwide fanbase. The manga has been pulled from the page for an anime series which has become a sensation around the globe as well, not to mention inspiring ten previous animated movies.

We could be looking at an influx of anime adaptations in the next few years, with Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson set for 2017, not to mention an adaptation of Death Note from The Guest director Adam Wingard. The question is will they be able to impress the fanbase enough to become a successful film franchise to match the popularity of the original property. That's always a big hurdle to overcome, and it didn't work out so well for Dragonball: Evolution in 2009.

Anyone out there interested in a Naruto movie?