‘Rashomon’ Series Adaptation Lands at HBO Max

Billy Ray and Virgil Williams to adapt the Akira Kurosawa film for Amblin Television

Amblin Television’s series adaptation of the classic Akira Kurosawa film “Rashomon” has landed at HBO Max, the two companies announced Thursday.

The project, which has been in development since 2018, is not a direct adaptation of the film, but retains the basic premise and distinctive plot device — an unraveling mystery seen through multiple characters’ competing perspectives — of the original film.

Per HBO Max, “Each episode will present the perceived truth of an individual character – putting each, in turn, at the center of the story and telling the events surrounding the murder from their unique, self-serving point of view.”

Billy Ray, who most recently adapted former FBI director James Comey’s memoir as a Showtime limited series, and “Mudbound” co-writer Virgil Williams are writers on the project.

“Our partnership on ‘Rashomon’ is based on our mutual pledge to make every single episode, every scene, and every character of this show a loving homage to Kurosawa’s talent as an artist. That’s our true north,” the duo said in a statement.

Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, co-presidents of television for Amblin Partners, are executive producers on the series alongside Mark Canton of Atmosphere Entertainment, Leigh Ann Burton of Opus7 Entertainment and David Hopwood. Amblin’s SVP of TV development Todd Cohen will oversee the day-to-day development of the project.

“I am delighted to work with Amblin Partners and HBO Max to reimagine ‘Rashomon’ for today’s audience. I am excited to see my dad’s vision through this inspirational story kept alive and made accessible to a new generation,” said Hisao Kurosawa.

“Truth has become increasingly fractured in this age of cable news and social media’s ‘say it and it’s true’ culture,” added Frank and Falvey. “Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece was not just a murder mystery; it was a revolution in storytelling, as cinema’s most impactful and influential early exploration of subjective points of view and flawed narration. Seventy years after the film’s release, the legacy of ‘Rashomon’ is indisputable and its central themes more relevant than ever. Our series will honor the impact of the original work and explore the age-old concept of objective truth versus subjective perspective in our modern times.”

“It takes a lot of hard work to make the stars align and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to create an original take on ‘Rashomon’ – a masterpiece from a true genius of cinema – for new audiences, with the full support and blessing of the Kurosawa family,” said Canton. “Not only that, but to be doing so in partnership with my friends and colleagues at Amblin Television, as well as the brilliantly talented Billy Ray and Virgil Williams, is truly the convergence of hard work and good fortune that every producer hopes for.”

“We are excited to work with Amblin Partners and our incredible writing team. Everyone involved understands the caliber and cache of Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Rashomon’ and his legacy,” said Burton.