Leigh Whannell is in negotiations to direct the upcoming superhero reboot, Green Hornet and Kato, for Universal Pictures, according to Deadline. The acclaimed genre filmmaker has been meeting with executives at the studio over the past couple of weeks, and is being considered as the frontrunner to obtain the job.
Universal executives are reportedly eager to work with Whannell again after he wrote and helmed the sci-fi horror movie, The Invisible Man, for the studio. The drama, which is inspired by H. G. Wells’ novel of the same name, was released to critical acclaim and box-office success in February 2020, just weeks before American theaters were closed, due to COVID lockdowns.
The studio received a script from Mission: Impossible scribe, David Koepp, earlier this year, which executives are eager to adapt for the screen. Once a deal closes on the screenplay, the film is expected to be fast-tracked to the pre-production stages.
Universal optioned the rights to The Green Hornet from Amasia Entertainment in the spring of 2020. The deal was finalized after Amasia’s co-founders, Michael Helfant and Bradley Gallo, acquired control of the motion picture franchise from the family of the original creator, George W. Trendle, in a competitive bidding war in January 2020. Helfant, the former president of Marvel Studios, and Gallo will produce Green Hornet and Kato for Amasia.
The Green Hornet was one of the most popular adventure shows on early radio after it premiered in 1936, before it was turned into a movie serial in the 1940s by Universal. The franchise later spawned a television series in 1966 that starred Van Williams as the titular character and introduced Bruce Lee to the U.S., in the role of Kato.
The classic story follows Britt Reid, the owner-publisher of The Daily Sentinel, as he becomes the eponymous Green Hornet. He becomes a vigilante crime fighter who takes down criminals with the help of Kato, who’s his side-kick.
The franchise’s most recent screen adaptation, The Green Hornet, was released in 2011 by Sony. It starred Seth Rogen in the titular role and Jay Chou as Kato. While the film, which was directed by Michel Gondry, mixed humor and action, Whannell’s adaptation is expected to be more of a serious action thriller.
Besides The Invisible Man, Whannell is also known for working on the Saw and Insidious franchises with fellow acclaimed horror filmmaker, James Wan; Whannell penned, produced and starred in several installments of each series, and made his feature film directorial debut on 2015’s Insidious: Chapter 3.
Whannell then wrote, helmed and executive produced the 2018 action movie, Upgrade, for Blumhouse. That collaboration led to him securing the job as the filmmaker behind The Invisible Man, which was produced in part by Blumhouse. The acclaimed drama further proved that he’s capable of not not only delivering thrills in genre projects, but also do so independently on a budget.
Due to Green Hornet and Kato being in the early development stages, there haven’t been any casting announcements made yet. A release date for the movie also hasn’t been set yet.