Live-Action Cowboy Bebop, Power Rangers Shows Allowed to Film Again in New Zealand

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New Zealand's Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment is allowing five more overseas productions to enter the country for filming in the next six months, even as most countries are still dealing with the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The productions that have received border exemptions include Netflix's live-action Cowboy Bebop series and Allspark's Power Rangers Beast Morphers. The Cowboy Bebop production can bring 19 crew members plus nine family members, while Power Rangers Beast Morphers can bring eight crew members pus four family members.

The other productions receiving exemptions are Amazon's The Lord of the Rings series, Netflix's Sweet Tooth series, and Peter Farrelly's film Greatest Beer Run Ever starring Viggo Mortensen. New Zealand already granted exemptions to James Cameron and 20th Century Studios' Avatar sequels and Jane Campion and Netflix's Power of the Dog film.

New Zealand is one of the few countries to almost completely eradicate COVID-19, and it maintains tight border controls to limit the reintroduction of cases into the country. The crew members of Avatar had to wait two weeks in isolation upon arriving in New Zealand, before they could continue production.

Netflix describes its Cowboy Bebop series:

Based on the worldwide phenomenon from Sunrise Inc., Cowboy Bebop is the jazz-inspired, genre-bending story of Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine and Radical Ed: a rag-tag crew of bounty hunters on the run from their pasts as they hunt down the solar system's most dangerous criminals. They'll even save the world…for the right price.

The series stars Cho as Spike, Mustafa Shakir as Jet, Daniella Pineda as Faye, Alex Hassell as Vicious, and Elena Satine as Julia. Netflix posted a "Behind the Scenes" video on October 7 to mark the start of production.

Writer and executive producer Jeff Pinkner teased in April that the show's staff is planning a second season. Pinker said that the project's one-hour episode length allows them to "really tell stories set in that world in a way that hopefully will not only delight the fans of anime but expose a whole bunch of new people to the world of Cowboy Bebop, the awesome work of Yoko Kanno." <!–The production had not previously announced that a second season is planned, nor that Yoko Kanno, the musical composer of the original Sunrise anime series and film, is involved in the live-action series. While Japan was under a state of emergency in April, Kanno gathered her Cowboy Bebop musicians online to collaborate on music while staying at home.–>

The production on the first season was on hold in New Zealand after lead actor John Cho's on-set knee injury in October, followed by a shutdown due to COVID-19.

The series is a co-production between Netflix and Tomorrow Studios, with Netflix handling physical production. Tomorrow Studios is a partnership between producer Marty Adelstein (Prison Break, Teen Wolf, producer for the live-action One Piece project) and ITV Studios. Shinichiro Watanabe, the original anime's director, is serving as consultant for the project. Andre Nemec, Josh Appelbaum, Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg of Midnight Radio are credited as showrunners and executive producers.

Tomorrow Studios' Marty Adelstein and Becky Clements; Yasuo Miyakawa, Masayuki Ozaki, and Shin Sasaki of Sunrise (the studio that animated the original series); and Tetsu Fujimura and Matthew Weinberg are also credited as executive producers. Chris Yost (Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok) is writing the series, and is credited as executive producer.

<!–Variety and entertainment news website Deadline previously reported the above staff in June 2017.

The original anime’s director Shinichiro Watanabe commented on the proposed Hollywood live-action film adaptation of the anime in 2014. He said, “I’m afraid I don’t know what they’re thinking in Hollywood. Apparently the project hasn’t come to a stop but I don’t know how it’s going to progress from here on. I hear that there are a lot of ‘Hollywood’ problems.” The director also said he had no interest in creating an animated Cowboy Bebop sequel unless “I thought I could do better [than] last time. If I feel that way, I might make more but I don’t know when that would happen.”

Actor Keanu Reeves said in 2013 that “Cowboy Bebop does not look like it is going to happen with me in it.” Reeves was originally slated to star in the proposed live-action film. The American film studio Twentieth Century Fox, the production company 3 Arts Entertainment, and Sunrise announced in January 2009 that they would be co-producing the proposed adaptation of the anime.

Joshua Long had acted as a production supervisor, and Erwin Stoff, a film producer who worked closely with Reeves on The Matrix and A Scanner Darkly, was also attached. The associate producers for the film were Sunrise President Kenji Uchida, the original Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe, and the original series script supervisor Keiko Nobumoto. The Sunrise studio itself and Masahiko Minami (former Sunrise producer and BONES studio co-founder) were both acting as production consultants. Peter Craig was writing the film’s screenplay. Stoff had said in 2009 that the film would not be an origin story.–>

The original anime series follows the motley crew of the spaceship Bebop as it travels throughout the solar system in search of the next job. The anime inspired Cowboy Bebop: The Movie in 2001. Funimation released the series on Blu-ray and DVD in North America in 2014, and screened the film in the United States in 2018, the 20th anniversary of the original series.

Power Rangers Beast Morphers premiered in March 2019. The series uses footage from Toei's Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters series, which premiered in February 2012, and it was the 36th entry in the Super Sentai franchise. The second season of the show premiered in February. Power Rangers Beast Morphers is the first series to feature a toy lineup from Hasbro, the brand's new owner as of 2018.

Sources: Stuff (Tom Hunt), Deadline (Andreas Wiseman)

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