The boom in popularity the Yakuza franchise in recent years as a result of SEGA’s renewed push of the series in the West is one of the more unlikely Japanese gaming success stories in recent years. Previous attempts to bring the series internationally had underperformed, particularly later entries on PS3, so this sudden reversal in fortunes sure has been surprising. It’s no surprise, then, that SEGA want to capitalize on this success beyond localizing further games as seen with the upcoming release of Yakuza: Like a Dragon. As reported in Variety, SEGA have announced a partnership with 1212 Entertainment and Wild Sheep Content to produce a Yakuza movie based on the franchise.
This isn’t the first attempt at bringing the Yakuza franchise to the big screen. Beloved Japanese director Takashi Miike attempted to create an adaptation of the film back in 2007, a take on the series that has its fans but is generally regarded as a film that fails to capture what made many people fall in love with the game series in the first place.
By comparison, this production is being worked on in collaboration with partners at Western film production studios, and 1212 studio have stated their hopes to bring the saga of Kiryu and it’s ‘mix of kinetic action with bursts of comedy, multiple converging storylines, and a gripping journey towards redemption’ to the big screen. Erik Barmack, Roberto Grande and Joshua Long will produce the film, with no scriptwriters currently attached to the project.
While video game adaptations have a mixed reputation, the quality of such adaptations are improving. SEGA themselves released the Sonic the Hedgehog movie earlier this year, with the film being a 2020 pre-pandemic box office success. Of course, bringing the fictional Kamuracho district to life is a difficult task, and we’ll have to see whether they can succeed at this.
SEGA have not announced a release date for the Yakuza movie at this time.