Lionsgate has signed Michael Gracey to direct an adaptation of the popular Japanese manga series "Naruto" and is in negotiations for the film rights to the franchise.
First published in 1997, Masashi Kishimoto's manga has sold more than 200 million copies in print and follows adolescent ninja Naruto Uzumaki, who dreams of becoming the village ninja.
"Naruto" has generated an anime series in Japan that premiered in 2002 and lasted 220 episodes, followed by the "Naruto: Shippuden" sequel which has been airing since 2007. Ten movies have also been produced.
Avi Arad is producing. Gracey is a former visual effects specialist who remains attached to several biopics in the works including the Elton Jonn-themed "Rocketman" with Tom Hardy, and the P.T. Barnum film "The Greatest Showman on Earth" at Fox.