Over the past few years, there's been a lot of murmuring in Hollywood about a possible live-action "Akira" film. Now comes word that the film may be alive and kicking again. Here's a recap of news regarding the possible live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo's anime film.
- Appian Way and Warner Bros Pictures were set to produce with director Ruairi Robinson, but the project was announced dead in June of 2009.
- Originally, Warner Bros wanted to split "Akira" into two films that were more faithful to the manga and wanted the first part out by the summer of 2009. The budget? Only $230 million.
- Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were rumored for the leads in the film. Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (both collaborated on "Iron Man") wrote the script while the setting was moved from Tokyo to Manhattan, but Kaneda's red motorcycle was still present.
- In 2010, Albert Hughes ("The Book of Eli") was rumored to have signed on to direct a PG-13 version of one film; not two. After about a year, he too walked away from the project.
- Now, after leaving the project due to it stalling out in 2012, director Jaume Collet-Serra ("Unknown") is again signed on with production expected to begin as early as spring of 2014.
- Production was shut down altogether in 2012 to polish the script and try to bring down the film's $90 million budget. Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman ("Catfish," "Paranormal Activity 3 & 4") were considered for this reason alone.
- Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, and Andrew Lazar are producing while Katsuhiro Otomo is attached to executive produce.
The main issues the film seems to be having reside in this "re-imagining" being relocated to the States yet leaving all the character names the same. Caucasian actors with Japanese names seems a little bizarre, doesn't it? The two-film approach also felt like a better idea. While the animated film is groundbreaking, its main flaw was trying to cram six volumes of story into one film. After four years of struggling to sign anyone to star in the film, the inability to keep a director, and however many times the script has been rewritten, it sounds like Warner Bros should have thrown in the towel a long time ago.
It also makes you wonder how profitable a live-action adaptation will turn out. The anime went on to become one of the most popular and influential anime titles of all time, but it barely crossed the $550,000 mark at the box office during its initial run in 1989. Meanwhile the concept of the film isn't exactly easy to grasp to an audience who's unfamiliar with the original film or manga. So it's a war between biker gangs in the future where one of the main characters gets psychic powers and turns into a giant baby at the end?
"Akira" has a ton of potential, but Warner Bros seems to be fighting tooth and nail for something that could either have a questionable reception or barely break even when it comes to its domestic release. It honestly sounds like they have another "Cloud Atlas" on their hands.
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