In light of Warner Bros.’ recent failings with films like Jupiter Ascending and Pan, with acclaim also thin on the ground where Batman v. Superman is concerned, the studio is taking stock of its future and prioritising its increasingly Disney-centric direction. So now, it’s looking like The Guest and You’re Next director Adam Wingard’s live-action Death Note will be snapped up by Netflix before too long, as the streaming service is into “final negotiations” on a $40-$50 million distribution rights deal. Variety reported that Lionsgate and STX were also being considered, but Netflix seems more than “poised to come out on top” with this agreement, judging by the sheer amount of cold hard cash they’re offering.
This doesn’t necessarily mean Warner Bros. dropping the project altogether in favour of greater focus on the likes of their DC Comics movies, as it’s likely they’ll retain their stakes in some sense, in case there’s a later opportunity to bring the film out theatrically. This connection could also be useful to Netflix; considering their ongoing quests for expansion, it’s not surprising that they’re looking to break into the cinematic marketplace too.
The film’s expected to begin production sometime this June, and previously cast Nat Wolff of Paper Towns as the lead, with Margaret Qualley of The Leftovers on board as his co-star. Neither the male nor female lead characters’ names have been revealed, but Variety described Wolff’s role as “a student who discovers a supernatural notebook that allows him to kill anyone simply by writing the victim’s name”, who will face off against a “reclusive police officer”.