What happened to the Evangelion film adaptation? (Topic)

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What happened to the Evangelion film adaptation?


The deconstruction of classic anime fur tropes and the emphasis on adult themes in Neon Genesis Evangelion has changed the way many people view anime in general. Hideaki Anno, together with the studio Gainex, went all-in: children played with cool anime toys, and adults reflected on such topics of the series as: religion, philosophy, psychological trauma. Moreover, the series has completely passed the test of time.

Evangelion was able to revive the aging Japanese anime market. ADV Films, led by John Ledford and Matt Greenfield, licensed the series for home video production in America and it was a very successful decision. This is how Evangelion spawned a new era and gained a loyal fan base.

The idea to adapt the series to the big screens came after the phenomenal success of the anime, but the creation lasted for years of production hell and was canceled. Polygon tells exactly what went wrong.


Great idea

Gainax and ADV Films, which were licensed to distribute the anime in North America, considered a big screen adaptation in 2002 and turned to Weta Workshop. ADV saw tremendous potential thanks to the anime's excitement in America, thanks in large part to the Toonami block on Cartoon Network featuring Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Cowboy Bebop and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.

Weta Workshop director Richard Taylor then led his studio to success with The Lord of the Rings, which became one of the most iconic films ever. This visual effects studio has achieved worldwide acclaim, and in 2003, together with Gainax, announced at the Cannes Film Festival that they would be making a film based on Neon Genesis Evangelion.

According to Taylor's recollections, the excitement around "Evangelion" was even greater than that of "The Lord of the Rings". One day he went to dinner with the producer of the film, and he was surrounded by fans who did not want to know anything but new information about "Eve". Then he made sure once again that the film should be shot.


However, the problems began then. According to Tiffany Grant, who voiced Asuka in the English dub [plus she is Matt Greenfield's wife], the film could not be directed in any way, and as a result, there were only rumors who would lead the project, there was not even a script and a cast. And it stretched for many years, those who said that the film was being shot most likely saw it in their dreams.

Anno also gave a general idea of who he sees in the lead roles. So he wanted Shinji to be played by Daniel Radcliffe, and the role of Asuka would be played by Emma Watson. They were thirteen at the time, but given the fact that the film would have taken several years, they would have been too mature for these roles.

In addition, it was complicated by the Japanese producers, who remained adamant about the age of the main characters. This was justified by the fact that "Evangelion" itself was focused on a 14-year-old audience, so the characters had to be exactly that age.

Problem on problem

Further, strange rumors about the making of the film constantly appeared. A lot of information was told by Richard Taylor himself in an interview.

According to Taylor, Weta contributed quite a lot of conceptual ideas to the project that inspired the team members, but the discussion ended. Designers such as Christian Pierce and Greg Broadmore were also involved in the creation process.

“We had a group of four or five people doing concept work for several months. We were constantly discussing new ideas, throwing them out as quickly as a bullet revolver ”- says Pierce–

“Every week we talked to the guys at Gainax. It was always exciting, but we never got any script or director's name from them. Over time, we just talked less and less about the picture until we switched to other projects, such as Halo, which also did not come out ... ".


The conceptual work that ADV Films did was just the tip of the iceberg, according to Greg Broadmer. Wet went head-to-head and drew characters, concepts for Evangelion, a control room for the military organization Nerve, and even worked out an idea of how the antagonists, giant mythical beasts known as Angels, would look in the film.

Wet's great contribution made the painting look very Western and this was evident in both the character designs and their names, which were replaced with an American motif. At this time, Anno decided to create the "Rebuild of Evangelion" project. These were four full-length animated films that would retell the events of the original series, but at the same time would change them, show the story from a different angle. Anno created a new studio, Studio Khara, to give him complete creative freedom. This meant that he took Evangelion with him and left Gainax and ADV Films without tools to create the series.



After the divorce of Anno and Studio Gainax, he took with him the children of Shinji, Asuka and Rei, and without them there could be no question of making a film based on Eve.

In 2011, ADV sued Gainax for being deprived of the right to film Eve and for losing the ability to produce the film. In turn, Gainax said that at any time they have the right to veto the deal and can return any money that ADV paid them for acquiring the rights to the painting.


After the lawsuit, there was no progress in making the film and the project essentially remained frozen. Worse, in 2016, Anno himself filed a lawsuit against Gainax to repay a loan of 100 million yen. Following the lawsuit, Gainax and Studio Khara entered into a contract at one time, according to which Gainax must pay a certain amount to Studio Khara from the proceeds from the projects that were created with the participation of Anno. He won the trial, but after that it was out of the question that the former partners would do a joint project.

Future (?)

In 2018, Netflix acquired the rights to air the original series and two feature-length episodes of Evangelion's End. And while now we have the foundation for someone to take on a new film adaptation, the project launched in the 2000s is now considered dead.

At the moment, there is only one person who can take on a second attempt to bring this anime to Hollywood - Richard Taylor. He still hopes that he can still work on the project. In an interview, he said:


"Nothing would have given me more pleasure than returning to Evangelion, and I still keep my fingers crossed." And even if we see a new film adaptation of "Evangelion", it will probably be different from what we could see in the project Gainax and ADV Films.

The Topic of Article: What happened to the Evangelion film adaptation?.
Author: Jake Pinkman