Mindfire's Mark Altman and Mark Gottwald will serve as producers of the film, which is expected to have a $40 million budget and is targeted for a summer 2004 release. Mindfire also has TV rights to the property.
"We look at this game franchise as 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' meets 'Blade,' " Altman said. "There hasn't been a good ninja movie in a while, and this game was made to be a movie. We're starting to develop a script now that will introduce the character and open up additional story possibilities, since we believe this will work as a franchise."
The game follows the adventures of Hotsuma, the last member of the Oboro clan. An evil force has ravaged Tokyo and raised the dead members of the Oboro clan. Armed with a cursed sword, which has a thirst for blood that must be served or it will turn on its holder, Hotsuma must battle his undead brothers and bring peace to the land.
" 'Shinobi' is one of Sega's greatest franchises, and we are happy to continue in our relationship with Mindfire on this project," said Charles Bellfield, vp strategic planning and corporate affairs at Sega of America.
Because Sega is early in development on the PS2 sequel to "Shinobi," Altman is working closely with game creator Ohba-san to ensure that the movie follows the vision of the game. During a meeting this week in Tokyo, Altman will discuss story lines as well as cross-promotional opportunities between the feature film and the video game sequel.
"We were able to work with Sega to have the movie trailer for 'The House of the Dead' on the Xbox (news - web sites) game 'House of the Dead III,' and that game was in the latter stages of development," Altman said. "The trailer has given the film an enormous amount of exposure among gamers, and we have much more time to work out opportunities to incorporate film elements in the new 'Shinobi' game and game elements into the movie."
Following the "Resident Evil" financial model, Mindfire is seeking financing for "Shinobi" through foreign buyers and will find a distributor for the movie after filming is complete, as it is doing with Sega's "House of the Dead," which will wrap in January and is expected to bow in mid-2003.
The company also has video game rights to Sega's "Crazy Taxi," Tecmo's fighting game franchise "Dead or Alive" and the comic book "Vampirella."