Chad Stahelski, the director charged by Sony with adapting the classic samurai game Ghost of Tsushima into a film, has said that he wants to make the film in Japanese with a cast of Japanese actors. Sony is also supportive of the move.
Stahelski made the remarks in an interview with Collider to promote the release of the Netflix vampire film Day Shift, which he directed.
Stahelski said the film would be visually stunning if we did this correctly. It's character driven. There's an opportunity for great action, great looks. And honestly, we'd to try to do it, all in character. Meaning, its a Japanese thing about the Mongols invading Tsushima island. Sony is so on board with supporting us on that. I've been traveling to Japan since I was 16.
Although Bong Joon Hos Parasite and Netflixs Squid Game have shown that viewers are growing in the United States and elsewhere, it would still be financially risky for a Hollywood action film to be shot in anything other than the English language.
Stahelski acknowledged this and appeared to suggest that the decision would limit the amount of money available for the film, but that he was willing to do it.
No one will give me $200 million to produce a technology-push film without speaking English. He agreed. I have to be clever and I have to figure out what is fiduciarily responsible to the property and to the studio and still make it something epic. [...] And I think America, or at least the Western audiences, are becoming more and more used to that due to the influence of Netflix and streamers and stuff.
From one perspective, this is a gamble for Stahelski, Sony Pictures, and PlayStation Productions, the company that specializes on making PlayStation games into films (which, in the wake of the Uncharted film, plans to release a Gran Turismo film in 2023). But from another perspective, it is perhaps the only option available to them.
Ghost of Tsushima has both English and Japanese language audio tracks as well as a black-and-white Kurosawa Mode. It is fair to say that the game is only a superficial understanding of the samurai's cultural and political significance.
Stahelski, from Massachusetts, has to grapple with how deeply to incorporate these concepts in a movie that has great action and great looks. He has cleared the first hurdle by committing to making the film in Japanese.