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Dresden to produce live action Grave of the Fireflies

Dresden Pictures has acquired the UK rights to Japanese war story Grave of the Fireflies for a live action adaptation.

The semi-autobiographical novel, by Akiyuki Nosaka (火垂るの), was originally published in 1967 and later adapted as an animated feature by Shinchosha (新潮社) through Studio Ghibli in 1988, directed by Isao Takahata.

A live action version was made for Japanese broadcaster NTV in 2005 but Dresden Pictures is the first production company outside of Japan to have optioned development rights to the story.

Produced by Liam Garvo and James Heath through Dresden Pictures, there are plans to start shooting in 2014.

The story is based on Nosaka’s experiences during and after the firebombing of Kobe, Japan in 1945. It centres on the struggle of two orphaned Japanese children – 14 year-old Seita and his four year-old sister, Setsuko – during World War II.

Nosaka wrote Grave of the Fireflies (火垂るの墓) as a personal apology to his sister regarding her death and was awarded the Naoki Prize for best popular literature.

The animated feature was originally released as a double feature in 1988 with My Neighbour Totoro, now regarded a Studio Ghibli classic, which generated millions for the animation company in merchandising. Grave of the Fireflies was also critically acclaimed but struggled commercially on its initial release.

Earlier this week, Gkids acquired North American theatrical rights to the animated Grave of the Fireflies via a distribution agreement with Japan’s Toho Co, with plans for a 25th anniversary release in the US.

Also this week, it was revealed that Studio Ghibli’s next two projects are Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises) from Hayao Miyazaki, about the man who designed the Zero fighter plane for Japan, and Kaguya-Hime no Monogatari (Princess Kaguya Story), from Fireflies’ director Takahata, based on folk story ‘Tale of the Bamboo Cutter’.

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