I haven’t done much reporting on the planned adaptation of Akira before now, for two important reasons. One, I know jack sh*t about anime. In fact, I’m worried someone’s going to yell at me for even calling it anime. That’s accurate, right? Does it have to do with sex pillows? And two, Akira is up there with Justice League and the Arrested Development movie in terms of Hollywood’s great white whales that will probably never get made but people can’t shut up about. But it’s in Variety today with a new budget and a new director attached, so who knows? Come kick the football, dorks. Here’s the most concise background I’ve seen, by way of Gamma Squad.
A few days ago we declared the bastardized Akira remake to be thankfully dead. It turns out our pronouncement was a bit premature (that’s never happened before, baby. I swear). To recap, the Hughes Brothers were originally attached to adapt books one through six in two movies with a total budget rumored to be $230 million. Things were looking good until rumors started circulating Warner Brothers was going to cast Zac Efron or a bunch of other white guys as the teenaged, Japanese gang members. Then the Hughes Brothers left the project. Then we heard Keanu Reeves was in talks to play Kaneda but smartly walked away, perhaps after looking at a calender and realizing it’s been nearly two decades since he was a teenager.
Which brings us to today. The $230 million budget is down to $90 million, and the director WB has in mind is Spaniard Jaume Collet-Serra, director of Orphan, aka Secret Dwarf Hooker, starring that little girl who looked like Madonna, and the Liam-Neeson-is-dead flick, Unknown. Wait, he’s Spanish and his name is “Jaume?” Correct me if I’m wrong, but is that pronounced… “homey?”
Warner Bros. is moving ahead with its remake of “Akira” in a fiscally sensible way, tapping reliable Spanish helmer Jaume Collet-Serra (“Orphan,” “Unknown”) to direct a live-action version of the anime cult hit at a lower revised budget of $90 million.
WB acquired the potential tentpole project for a seven-figure sum from Japanese manga publisher Kodansha in 2008.
Gary Whitta was the first writer attached, while Albert Torres and the team of Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby also contributed drafts. Steve Kloves, WB’s go-to scribe for its lucrative “Harry Potter” franchise, most recently polished Torres’ draft.
Set in New Manhattan, the cyberpunk sci-fi epic follows the leader of a biker gang who must save his friend, discovered with potentially destructive psychokinetic abilities, from government medical experiments. [Variety]
Ha, ‘sensible.’ ‘Reliable.’ Those are not adjectives you use to get people excited about a movie. Those are compliments for cheap underwear and drug dealers.