Sunrise: Keanu Reeves' Enthusiasm Clinched Cowboy Bebop Deal
In panel with Satelight about global business, Sunrise indicates script approval clause
Kenji Uchida, the president of the Sunrise anime studio, told attendees of a Tokyo International Anime Fair (TAF) 2009 symposium that actor Keanu Reeves' enthusiasm for its Cowboy Bebop anime was the deciding factor in the recent live-action film deal. Uchida said Reeves (The Matrix, A Scanner Darkly, Johnny Mnemonic) himself visited Japan twice to express his interest in adapting the stylized science-fiction anime, and added that if Reeves had not done so, the deal might not have been made. Uchida further noted that the difficult negotiations with the 20th Century Fox film studio continued for two years until agreeable contract terms were drafted. He emphasized that the contract allows Sunrise to assert quality control by stating, "If the script is terrible, the live-action film adaptation will not be approved."
Uchida spoke at a Thursday symposium titled "Basquash! to Cowboy Bebop ni Miru Kaigai Collabo Business Model" ("The Collaborative Overseas Business Model, as Shown by Basquash! and Cowboy Bebop"). At the panel, Satelight executive director and anime creator Shoji Kawamori (Macross, Escaflowne, Aquarion) and French animation creator Thomas Romain (Oban Star-Racers, Aria the Natural) discussed how they collaborated on next month's Basquash! robot sports action anime series. In describing the project's genesis, Kawamori said that he felt there are limits and clichés in the weapon-based action genre. Romain co-developed this unorthodox project about street basketball — as played by players in giant robotic mecha — with a team of both Japanese and French animators.