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WIRE Buzz: Usagi Yojimbo CGI series coming to Netflix. Plus, 'Isolation' movie wraps in quarantine
Stan Sakai's acclaimed Usagi Yojimbo comic book is coming to television for the first time in the form of a CGI-animated series entitled Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles. Netflix and Gaumont are spearheading the project alongside Dark Horse Entertainment; James Wan's Atomic Monster; and Candie and Doug Langdale.
Combining "modern high-tech images with classic Japanese references," per Netflix, the show will follow Rabbit Samurai Yuichi, descendent of Miyamoto Usagi, on an epic quest to become a true samurai warrior. "He leads a ragtag team of misfit heroes — including a roguish bounty hunter, a cunning ninja, an acrobatic pickpocket and a faithful pet lizard — as he battles depth-charging moles, metal-tipped winged bats, and monsters from another dimension," teases the release.
Mumbai-based 88 Pictures is handling the animation, with Ben Jones (Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and Khang Le (Big Hero 6) serving as supervising producer and art director, respectively.
"All of us at Gaumont were honored when Stan trusted us to develop his iconic property into an animated series," Gaumont president Nicolas Atlan said in a statement. "This is a first for Usagi Yojimbo. We are thrilled to have Netflix on board as our creative partner so we can together, with the combined artistic talent of Stan Sakai, Dark Horse Entertainment and Atomic Monster take this iconic brand to the next level."
Sakai, a six-time Eisner winner, is attached as an executive producer as well.
"It is a pleasure working with Gaumont and Netflix," the writer-illustrator said in a statement of his own. "I am involved in each step of the production and am enthusiastic with the direction we are going into. It is wonderful to expand the Usagi universe by collaborating with so many talented people. I am working with an awesome team and I’m looking forward to finally seeing an Usagi series on the screen! I thank my wonderful fans, friends and family for their support and encouragement over the last 35+ years."
For almost four decades, the comic has gained a laundry list of accolades, including the Parents’ Choice Award, an American Library Association Award, and the Young Adult Library Services Association Award. In addition, it's topped "Best Of" lists from Empire, IGN, and Rolling Stone.
Isolation, an upcoming horror anthology film, recently wrapped a production that took place entirely in coronavirus-era quarantine, Variety confirms. The project tells nine separate (albeit subtly interconnected) tales of pandemic-related terror from "all corners of the world."
The filmmakers behind the anthology are: Dennie Gordon (Legion); Larry Fessenden (Depraved); Bobby Roe (The Houses October Built); Andrew Kasch (Tales of Halloween); Zach Passero (Wicked Lake); Christian Pasquariello (Alien Invasion: S.U.M. 1); Alexandra Neary (The Innocent); Alix Austin and Keir Siewert (Retch); and Kyle I. Kelley and Adam Brown (The Music Lesson).
Those involved were creatively limited, as they were forbidden to use Zoom or other digital conferencing programs. Moreover, they could only use the equipment they had upon going into lockdown. Nathan Crooker produced the movie (currently wrapping post-production) under his Ghost Gang banner. The company is exploring distribution rights.
"Isolation explores the human condition through a genre lens, weaved together in an anthology experience," Crooker told Variety, noting that the films touches on themes including "human connection, paranoia, hope, love, escapism, fear of the unknown, abandonment, and opportunism."
Hailing from Sharon Horgan (creator of Divorce) and Jeff Astrof (co-creator of Trial & Error), the show follows a dysfunctional family that moves into a house with a dark and murderous past. Cox plays the family matriarch, Pat, who seems to be the only person aware of the fact that domicile is haunted. Kinnear, meanwhile, take on the role of her "sweet, sensitive" husband, Terry Phelps, per Deadline.
While Pat ends up having an affair with a young handyman, Terry is determined to keep his marriage and family together, no matter the cost — "Especially when his wife tells him she believes their new house is haunted," reads the synopsis provided by Deadline. "Terry’s challenge will be to ride out whatever is going on with Pat, without completely losing his own mind in the process."
Dearbhla Walsh (Penny Dreadful, The Punisher) is slated to direct the pilot episode.