Rupert-Sanders-to-direct-Ghost-in-the-ShellWith the live-action adaptations of Akira and Bleach still pretty much stuck in limbo, those interested in seeing a Hollywood blockbuster version of the Japanese art form can now turn their sights on Ghost in the Shell.

Deadline reports that Rupert Sanders has signed on to direct a live-action adaptation for DreamWorks.

The studio acquired the project back in 2008, fuelled by the passion of Steven Spielberg. Jamie Moss (Street Kings) was originally to pen the script, before Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) replaced him. But now it looks like the studio has started over, with a new script from William Wheeler (The Reluctant Fundamentalist).

The story follows the exploits of a member of a covert ops unit of the Japanese National Public Safety Commission that specializes in fighting technology-related crime.

The long-running franchise began life as a manga series back in 1989, written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow. Since then, there have been two further manga volumes, various animated adaptations, and a handful of video games.

Avi Arad (Iron Man, The Amazing Spider-Man), Ari Arad (Iron Man, The Punisher), and Steven Paul (Ghost Rider, Tekken) will be producing.

Sanders made a very impressive feature debut with 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman, and I’ve been keen to see what he’ll take on next. He has a number of projects on his upcoming slate, including sci-fi/drama The Juliet for Sony and New Regency, an epic about Napoleon’s bloody battles with Warner Bros., 90 Church for Universal and Joe Roth, and an adaptation of Frederick Forsyth’s thriller The Kill List.

It’s not yet clear which he’ll be making next, but given that DreamWorks has been sitting on this for over half a decade now, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if they’re looking to fast-track this one with Sanders now signing on; if not his next project, then maybe the next after that.

Excluding its Animations arm, the studio is one of the very few without any major franchises, and a film like this could certainly launch a new franchise for them to tap for years to come.