Cowboy Bebop 001 - 20130810Earlier today, Anime News Network reported that Keanu Reeves commented on the status of the Cowboy Bebop movie. In a Reddit AMA, the actor stated the following:

Cowboy Bebop does not look like it is going to happen with me in it. The script that was written was great and amazing, but it would cost like half a billion dollars to make it, and while I wished and hoped I would have done that project, we are working on trying to get Bill & Ted 3. There’s a script and we are trying to put it together.

This isn’t the first time he’s mentioned that the film’s budget would reach exorbitant levels. In a 2010 interview with Collider, Reeves made a similar remark, though he noted that he didn’t know the film’s overall status.

Since the film’s reveal in 2008, Cowboy Bebop has been a proverbial Sasquatch of the anime world. While it’s been known to surface on occasion, details always seem to remain scarce.

We knew that it was a co-production between 20th Century Fox and Sunrise. We also knew that Reeves was the signed star, and that producer Erwin Stoff was attached to the project. Sunrise president Kenji Uchida, Cowboy Bebop anime director Shinichiro Watanabe, and Cowboy Bebop anime script supervisor Keiko Nobumoto were signed as associate producers, while Sunrise as a whole and BONES co-founder Masahiko Minami were acting as production consultants. The film was being written by Peter Craig, and the film was confirmed to not be an origin story. The script underwent a re-write in 2009, and the film’s producer was sued for an unpaid $250,000 loan in 2011.

While it’s unfortunate that Reeves is unlikely to remain with the project, his revelation does give a small amount of insight to the status of the film. To see the star make depart in the manner implies one of two situations:

  1. The film hasn’t entered full production
  2. The film is facing a troubled production.

At this point, it’s impossible to really say exactly which situation applies to the Cowboy Bebop flick. Given the slow movement behind the scenes, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s still caught in pre-production hell after a half decade.

Depending on the production agreement between Sunrise and Fox, being caught on the back burner could prove to be just as bad as the alternative. If the production agreement is time-based, then it’s quite possible that we’ll see the clock run out before the film can be made. Likewise, if the film continues to bleed talent, then both parties may not see the film worth the investment, leading to its eventual cancellation. At this point, though, this is little more than speculation. Both Fox and Sunrise remain tight-lipped on the project, so until an official answer arises, all we can do is await further updates.