‘The Legend of Zelda’ Director Wes Ball Wants His Movie to Feel Like a ‘Live-Action Miyazaki’

Ball describes his vision as an “awesome fantasy-adventure movie that isn’t like ‘Lord of the Rings,’ it’s its own thing”

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Wes Ball, director of the “Maze Runner” film franchise, has a very specific vision for his next project, “The Legend of Zelda.”

“I’ve always said, I would love to see a live-action Miyazaki,” he said. “That wonder and whimsy that he brings to things, I would love to see something like that.”

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ball described his aim for the video game film adaptation as an “awesome fantasy-adventure movie that isn’t like ‘Lord of the Rings,’ it’s its own thing” while referencing Hayao Miyazaki, the director of animation company Studio Ghibli known for his distinct style of animation as seen in films like “Castle in the Sky” (1986), “My Neighbr Totora” (1988), “Princess Mononoke” (1997) and “Howl’s Moving Castle” (2004). His 2001 film “Spirited Away” won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and his latest “The Boy and the Heron” arrived earlier this year. 

Nintendo announced the production and partial financing of the live-action “Zelda” movie in November. Sony will distribute the movie worldwide. The next project fits into the gaming company’s transformation into a larger entertainment industry player, with a gaming core to remain.

“It’s going to be awesome. My whole life has led up to this moment. I grew up on ‘Zelda and it is the most important property, I think, that’s untapped IP, if you will,” Ball said on Zoom from New Zealand where he is working in postproduction on “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” coming out in May 2024. “So we very much are working hard to do something. We’re not just trying to do it because we can. We want to make something really special.”

Shigeru Miyamoto, video game designer and creator of “Zelda,” will work with producer Avi Arad to produce the film. Derek Connolly (“Jurassic World”) is writing the screenplay with Ball both directing and producing.

“We’re working on the script, and whether it’s the next one or not, it’s hard to say exactly,” Ball explains. “But certainly the plan is, after ‘Apes is done, to have a little bit of a rest for a moment, and then dive into [“Zelda”] and hopefully give fans what they’re hoping for, and also invite new people in. I think Nintendo’s desire is to introduce people to this world that’s been around for 40 years now.”

Over 25 different games in the series have been made about the sword-wielding hero, Link, since 1986. Link, who wields the famed Master Sword, fights alongside the Hylian princess Zelda to protect their land from dark forces.

Ball previously tweeted about his desire to adapt a “Legend of Zelda” movie in 2010 after watching James Cameron’s “Avatar.

Since I could never even hope to have the chance to direct it… the next big mo-cap Avatar-like movie should be… THE LEGEND OF ZELDA,” he wrote.

“I had forgotten I’d even done it. Someone dug it up [after Ball was announced as the Zelda director] and they put it out there. I was like, oh yeah, cool, that makes sense,” Ball told EW when asked about the tweet. “James Cameron’s one of the guys I look up to in terms of movies. He’s able to do big, giant spectacle, but he’s still able to ground his stories in a way that is very relatable to broad audiences. ‘Avatar’ inspired me to ultimately make my little short ‘Ruin’ that got me on to the Fox people, and they gave me the ‘Maze Runner’ movies. From there it went to ‘Planet of the Apes’ and ultimately to ‘Zelda.’”

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