Today it was officially announced that Ryuhei Kitamura is directing the long-rumored live-action adaptation of Monkey Punch’s classic manga series Lupin the 3rd starring Shun Oguri as master thief Arsène Lupin III. Co-stars include Tetsuji Tamayama as Daisuke Jigen, Go Ayano as Goemon Ishikawa, Meisa Kuroki as Fujiko Mine, and Tadanobu Asano as Inspector Koichi Zenigata.
Originally inspired by Maurice Leblanc’s “gentleman thief” novels, Lupin III was first serialized in Weekly Manga Action in August 1967 and its popularity helped establish the youth manga genre. It eventually expanded into a franchise of TV anime, animated movies, and games popular throughout the world.
Appropriately, the live-action version will pool talent from around the world in addition to Japan. Kitamura got his start as an action and science fiction genre film director in Japan, but for the past several years he’s been directing films in Hollywood such as Midnight Meat Train and No One Lives. His staff includes a cinematographer from Spain, two action directors and a VFX coordinator from South Korea, and 14 translators used for on-location shoots requiring communication in Japanese, English, Thai, Chinese, and Korean.
International cast members include Jerry Yan of the popular Taiwanese boy band F4 as Lupin’s nemesis Michael Lee, veteran Australian actor Nick Tate, Thai actor Thanayong Wongtrakul, South Korean actor Kim Joon, Nirut Sirichanya of The Hangover Part II, and Thai singer/actress Yaya Ying (Rhatha Phongam).
Oguri has been been training for over 10 months to get into “Lupin shape”, and has lost a total of 8kg (17.6 lbs). Meanwhile, Ayano went in the opposite direction, packing on about 10kg (22 lbs) for his role as swordsman Goemon Ishikawa at the urging of the production staff.
According to producer Mataichiro Yamamoto, the most difficult casting decision was the Fujiko Mine role, because it had to be someone sexy but also someone with a “clean” image. Eventually the staff unanimously agreed on Kuroki.
After being in development for 4 years, principal photography began on October 3 and is now about two-thirds complete with a plan to wrap sometime in December. By that time, filming will have taken place in 5 countries, including Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the Philippines. Production is expected to be complete by May 14, 2014.
“Lupin the 3rd” will be released nation-wide in Japan in Summer 2014.