The series, which is in development at the streamer, is being written by Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) and Virgil Williams (Mudbound) and produced by Amblin Television.
The project has been in the works for about two years after the television arm of Steven Spielberg’s company announced that it had secured the rights to create a new series inspired by the film.
Opus7 Entertainment’s Leigh Ann Burton and Mark Canton, founder of Atmosphere Entertainment and exec producer of Starz’s Power, initially approached Amblin with the opportunity, and it was Burton who the producer said “successfully navigated the complex negotiation” and secured the blessing of the Kurosawa family.
The series will not be an adaptation but will retain the key plot device of the Kurosawa film – a drama centering on a grisly sexual assault and murder and the unraveling mystery seen through multiple characters’ competing narratives. It will explore the themes of truth and subjective point of view, in a modern setting. Each episode will present the perceived truth of an individual character, putting each, in turn, at the center of the story and telling the events surrounding the murder from their unique, self-serving point of view.
Amblin Partners Co-Presidents of Television Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey will executive produce, along with Canton, Burton and Den of Thieves producer David Hopwood. Todd Cohen, SVP Television Development, will oversee the day-to-day development of the project for Amblin, with Frank and Falvey.
“I am delighted to work with Amblin Partners and HBO Max to reimagine Rashomon for today’s audience,” said Hisao Kurosawa, son of Akira Kurosawa. “I am excited to see my dad’s vision through this inspirational story kept alive and made accessible to a new generation.”
Said Frank and Falvey: “Truth has become increasingly fractured in this age of cable news and social media’s ‘say it and it’s true’ culture. Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece was not just a murder mystery; it was a revolution in storytelling, as cinema’s most impactful and influential early exploration of subjective points of view and flawed narration. Seventy years after the film’s release, the legacy of Rashomon is indisputable and its central themes more relevant than ever. Our series will honor the impact of the original work and explore the age-old concept of objective truth versus subjective perspective in our modern times.”
Said Canton: “It takes a lot of hard work to make the stars align, and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to create an original take on Rashomon – a masterpiece from a true genius of cinema – for new audiences, with the full support and blessing of the Kurosawa family. Not only that, but to be doing so in partnership with my friends and colleagues at Amblin Television, as well as the brilliantly talented Billy Ray and Virgil Williams, is truly the convergence of hard work and good fortune that every producer hopes for.”
Added Burton: “We are excited to work with Amblin Partners and our incredible writing team. Everyone involved understands the caliber and cache of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon and his legacy.”
Williams and Ray added: “Our partnership on Rashomon is based on our mutual pledge to make every single episode, every scene, and every character of this show a loving homage to Kurosawa’s talent as an artist. That’s our true north.”
Virgil Williams is represented by Craig Brody of Map Point Management and John Meigs Jr. of Hansen, Jacobson, et. al. Billy Ray is represented by Peter Nichols of Lichter Grossman Nichols Adler Feldman & Clark.