EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has set Gavin O’Connor to direct Yakuza, a contemporary Japan-set thriller for Imagine Entertainment. Brian Grazer is producing. The focus is an American intelligence expert who becomes embroiled in the affairs of a notorious yakuza godfather and finds himself plunged into the violent criminal underworld and toxic landscape of post-tsunami Japan.
The project originated at Imagine, with a script originally written by Aaron & Matthew Benay, and rewritten by Chap Taylor. O’Connor will rewrite the script with Josh Fagin, and Imagine’s Kim Roth and Sarah Bowen will be executive producers.
O’Connor, who last helmed Warrior, is separately attached to direct Neverland, a Channing Tatum-produced revisionist look at Peter Pan for Sony Pictures that has a Billy Ray script, as well as The Samurai, a spec script he wrote with Michael J. Wilson, for Warner Bros. He’s also fashioning the Walter Tevis novel The Hustler into a stage play that O’Connor will direct. He is writing that with his Warrior co-scripter Anthony Tambackis. He’s repped by CAA.