Speaking to MTV at a recent press event, Keanu Reeves revealed a bit about the progress of the Bebop movie. The first draft of the adaptation is complete, and although described as ‘fantastic’, it was ultimately too expensive to make. It is being reworked into something a bit more producible.
“There’s a draft of the script, but the writer did such a great job [that] in order to make the movie, you would need half a billion dollars.”
However, Reeves indicated that the writer’s adherence to the galaxy-spanning adventure of the full entire series might prove a little daunting for production.
“So the studio went, ‘This movie is fantastic and it would cost half a billion dollars,” laughed Reeves, “so he’s doing a rewrite.”
“The only challenge was to make a satisfying western narrative out of the kind of storytelling that happens,” he added. “There’s a great draft, so we’re just trying to pull it back a little bit now.”
Live action writer Peter Craig gave an interview to Animé Vice, which revealed a few reassuring details about the Bebop adaptation; at least partially putting fans at ease — some are still outraged at Keanu Reeve’s casting as Spike.
On the movie’s progress
AV: It’s been reported that the staff who made the animé– the studio Sunrise –is going to remain involved in the film. Do you know at this point if this will include significant involvement in the script?
PC: Yes, they’re very much involved. I met with all of them in Tokyo in December — at a long meeting with Keanu in the room. I thought there was an immediate rapport between all of us, particularly Shinchiro Watanabe and Keanu. I asked questions, presented scenarios, and they were very specific about their vision for the series, and how it might convert to a live-action film. They’ve continued to be in touch since then; and last month I received a very detailed letter, which I’ve consulted regularly. I’m close to finishing an early draft, and I believe they’ll be very happy with it. Not only does the script stay extremely true to the show — I also know that Erwin and Fox are already discussing production designers that can reproduce the “look” of Cowboy Bebop as closely as possible. They’ll be reading the script soon… so my fingers are crossed.
On getting the gig
I’m obviously not the most likely writer to land a great project like this. I began as a novelist, and was steered into writing screenplays when I adapted two of my own crime novels after they were optioned. Eventually, I earned a decent reputation for writing certain kinds of characters: disaffected men, dysfunctional families, poker-playing con-women, weathered ex-cops. A couple of things I’ve written are going into production this summer — but they’ve been circulating much longer. So studios and producers were familiar with my work here.
Even though I’d never written Sci-Fi, Emma Watts and Erwin Stoff really believed that I might relate well to Spike, Faye, and Jet — as well as many of the minor characters from the episodes. When I heard I might have a chance for the job, I was thrilled. Fox sent me every episode of “Cowboy Bebop,” including a few that had never aired in the U.S. I think I watched all of them consecutively one night until the sun came up — and by the end, I was obsessed with the show. I loved how it mixed genres, how it blended noir, Jazz, Yakuza movies, Westerns, and so much else into a vision of the future that worked. And so I entered that process of going after the job, giving my “take” on the movie, competing with other writers. Ultimately, I got the job because Erwin Stoff and Emma Watts had liked my work in the past — and they saw that I was passionate about it.
The jump from producer Erwin Stoff to actor Keanu Reeves was a predictable one — the movies they’ve made together are numerous — The Matrix, A Scanner Darkly, The Lake House, Constantine, The Day the Earth Stool Still, The Devil’s Advocate — to name but a few.
Variety broke the news in January this year, additionally revealing that Peter Craig is set to pen the screenplay with Joshua Long as an executive producer. Sunrise Inc., producers of the animé, shall have close involvement with the film’s development with Kenji Uchida and Shinichiro Watanabe to act as associate producers next to writer Keiko Nobumoto; series producer Masahiko Minami shall act as a production consultant.
Reeves will take on the role of Spike Spiegel, an adventurous bounty hunter traveling through space in 2071.
Story follows the adventures of a group of bounty hunters traveling on their spaceship, the Bebop. Peter Craig has been tapped to write the screenplay.
On July 22nd 2008 IF Magazine posted an article revealing the first news of a Live Action movie adaptation of Cowboy Bebop — a project under the watchful eyes of 20th Century Fox with producer Erwin Stoff (I am Legend, Constantine, The Matrix) at the helm:
“I’m developing COWBOY BEBOP for Fox, but doing it as a live-action film, so I’m working on that at the moment,” Stoff tells iF. “I’m really excited to be working on it, and it’s in the really early stages. We just signed it the other day.”
Stoff continued with a statement of good intent in regards to a faithful adaptation:
“I have such an enormous admiration for its creators, that our first and foremost concern is going to be a real degree of faithfulness to the tone of the movie, to the mix of genres, and so on and so forth,” he says. “When I met with them in Japan, one of the first things that I brought up was the experience that we had on A SCANNER DARKLY, and how hard we worked to remain faithful to Philip K. Dick, and that was our big concern here.”
On the qualms of a correct cast — at least in the eyes of fans, Stoff brushed aside the issue:
“Flak about choices is meaningless until people see the movie,” he notes. “When people see the movie, then criticism has a place in it.”