Director Albert Hughes Exits ‘Akira’

Published 4 years ago by

Albert Hughes Leaves Akira Movie Director Albert Hughes Exits Akira

Warner Bros.’ Akira project has seen more than its fair share of ups and downs (mostly downs) in the last year – and now the film may be taking one of its most substantial blows yet.

Albert Hughes (of the Hughes Brothers), the man responsible for Dead Presidents, Menace II Society, and most recently The Book of Eli has left the Akira project. While not exactly a favorite among fans, the director’s exodus leaves the already trouble production flailing for direction.

Deadline reports that Hughes is definitely out of the film – and headed to L.A. to speak with his agency and start looking at other scripts. While the report doesn’t specify, it is likely that the director’s departure is centered around the growing chasm between the studio’s aspirations for the film – and the core aspects of the source material.

The news comes only one week after the departure of Keanu Reeves – which was very likely the result of fan outcry surrounding the the actor’s casting as Kaneda. Hughes’ choice to pursue an older, more established star such as Reeves spoke volumes about the difficulty that studio execs were having – as they attempted to wrap their heads around turning the story of teenage rebellion into an epic, star-studded action franchise. It’s very likely that pressure and mixed messages from the studio caused the director to opt out of Akira-duty – since, despite the fact it’s a high-priority project, the film seems to be lacking a cohesive vision right now.

Whether or not it was Hughes that wanted to focus on older, more established, start – as opposed to the teenage protagonists of the actual anime and manga – is unclear at this point. Though, the report suggests that Hughes’ departure, coupled with Reeves’ passing on the Kaneda role, has led Warner Bros. to re-evaluate their direction for Akira – possibly returning to the original 20-something actor format.

At that time, Warner Bros. was looking at a small pool of up-and-coming younger actors (emphasis on the “er” – since some of these guys are still much older than the series’ characters) for the two leads – Tetsuo and Kaneda (mentioned earlier) including: Andrew Garfield, James McAvoy, and Robert Pattinson (Tetsuo) as well as Michael Fassbender, Garrett Hedlund, Joaquin Phoenix, Chris Pine, and Justin Timberlake (Kaneda).

Keanu Reeves passes on the Akira live action movie Director Albert Hughes Exits Akira

We know that Warner Bros. was interested in a PG-13 friendly Akira, so it’s possible that Hughes felt too constricted as a result, but without knowing whether or not Hughes was trying to put together the older, more “mature” cast for the film makes it difficult to predict what direction the studio will want the next director to embrace.

In general, it’s likely that Hughes wanted the older cast to give the film a grittier and darker tone – even if it was a PG-13 movie. As a result, while it might be a relief to fans if Warner Bros. did look for younger actors to populate the cast, it’s easy to forget that a PG-13 film with younger actors such as Pattinson or Hedlund could also fall especially short of the dark and brutal world featured in the anime.

Fans may never have been excited about Hughes but, depending on who Warner Bros. gets to direct the film next, we may be wishing for the more “mature” version he had in mind. Hopefully, no matter what happens, the Kaneda role doesn’t end-up in the hands of Zac Efron.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick and let us know, since Warner Bros. seems determined to make this film, what you’d like to see.

Source: Deadline

TAGS: Akira
Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Just cancel this film. Most (if not all) the fans are against it, and it’s just a flop waiting to happen.

      • That was really good, but I fear this Hollywood adaptation won’t be anywhere near as good.

        • It’s going to be a pompous wreck made by people who have no clue about what they’re dealing with and want to make it just because.

  2. I want an R rating dang it!
    All of the fans just want an R-rated Akira and nothing less!
    The project obviously needs some positive light shed on it so just for once give the fans what they want and make it R.

    After that then lets get actors like Chris Evans, Chris Pine would be cool too for Kaneda and then for Tetsuo I’d go with Joseph Gordon Levitt.

  3. Just no, no to this whole project.

  4. From the sounds of it, this movie’s actual title is “Titanic.” It’s sinking and everyone wants to get off.

  5. “the story of teenage rebellion”

    Look it’s maybe half about that. It’s also about the horror of personal transformation into something bizarre, the feeling of helplessness in the face of that. The dangling question is do American audiences in large numbers really want to experience that in a movie house? Do you plan to show something with the tone of the last half of “Apocalypse Now” to 10 year olds? If they don’t then half your potential movie and audience is lost. My personal theory is anyone who has a properly functioning brain cell, once they get close enough to the material to realize this, look to get uninvolved. With some compromise it can be produced but it’s high risk stuff, very likely a financial lost cause.

    • Glad you mentioned that because I had a problem with that “story of teenage rebellion” as well.

  6. hopefully they will lose enough steam with this project that they abandon it altogether and maybe financially back a Japanese studio to produce it with a japanese cast, in japan…! maybe even film two versions(one in english, one japanese) and maybe the film might come out decent…

  7. I think there is a movie based on the books that could use older actors. You just refocus the script around The Colonel, Ryu, and Tetsuo.
    Tetsuo would still be a crazy 17 year old asian boy. But the hero would by Ryu the revolutionary trying to uncover the truth the corruption of the military. The movie could be a metaphor for the Arab Spring.

  8. Neo Tokyo -> New Columbia (Washington D.C.)

    The Colonel -> The General (The head of American Industrial Military Complex) (Tea Party) (Muammar Gaddafi)

    Ryu -> Richard (Terrorist/Activist/Freedom Fighter) (Libertarian Party)

    Testsuo -> Testsuo (Gang Member/Drug Adict/Victim)

    Richard and The General would be played by traditional Hollywood lead actors. Testsuo would be played by a young Asian actor.

    • seriously with the right script and screenplay and director they can make an awsome movie just because its “americanized” soesnt mean it will be awful it depends on the talent involved.

  9. Get the dude that played Havok in xmen. i think he would be an awsome kaneda it can have youcan have young actors and still be awsome they dont need to be older to make a truly disturbing adaptation.

    • it can have young*

  10. I don’t care how old the actors are, in fact it’s better if they have someone more experienced who won’t screw up their part. It was the focus of the movie that worried me. Hopefully this opens their eyes and prompts them to be more faithful than th themes of Akira instead of making an adaptation in name only.

    • True, but i just hope they get someone who looks like a teenaged biker. I agree, the themes should be rightfully adapted but i dont need a 100% adaptation just a movie that honors the essence of the manga. i want to see Tetsuo going against the military, stopping bombs, and destroying tanks. I want the core story of the anime but it doesnt matter where it takes place as long as its faithful to the core aspects of the story.

  11. Only Guillermo del Toro and Zack Snyder can save us now, they are the only directors who can do Akira justice in my opinion. Maybe Peter Jackson…maybe. -I really hope they scrape this idea until someone competent can do it right. When will the madness end??!??

  12. The movie industry has become a big scam. That’s why I advocate Piracy!

    • If the rules didn’t prohibit it, I would call you a moron.

      • Come on Ink, you’ve been around long enough to know better. Don’t push the boundaries please :-)


  13. Just cancel the movie altogether. Let it remind a class piece of anime.

  14. Very smart man (I guess all the death threats and guys showing up at his door with pitchforks and torches worked! /evil grin :D )

    Just like with Battleship Yamato, the only, O N L Y ones who should be making a live action version of this show are the Japanese. Period. It’s their IP, their legacy and Hollywood shouldn’t be trying to rip it off.

    The only way I could see an adaption being supported is if they based it loosely on Akira but changed everything that made it feel Japanese. So American locales, names, etc. Maybe call it “Project Esper”

  15. Wasn’t it sposed to be Dicaprio and Joseph gordon-levitt a while ago? what happened to that? that woulda been alright…

  16. and nothing of any value was lost.

  17. LET IT DIE.

    If I hear one more person supporting the bastardiz-I mean americanization of Akira I’m gonna start busting caps. You’re insane. What better way to disrespect the manga than to do that? Don’t let these execs constantly shove that ridiculous idea into your face enough times for it to sound like a rational idea for their film.

    Now I’ve had enough now of hearing these brainless moron executives sound off their disgusting ideas for this movie month after month. Something has to be done to stop this from being made. Where can I go as a fan to join other fans in saying NO?

    • Ultimately, people have to say NO by not going to the theater to see it, and not buying it on DVD. At the end of the day, that’s the thing that truly matters with Hollywood. Money.

      If the movie flops, and flops hard, they might actually take a look at themselves and their practices.

      It can’t be a soft failure as Last Airbender was. I still can’t believe how many people (even people I know, who should know better) still went and saw Last Airbender at the theater, just to “see how bad it was.” People need to stop with their inane, mental “I hate all critics” nonsense; same goes for their “Oh, it looks bad, but I’m going to see it anyway” behavior.

      Lsat Airbender made some good money because of those people. If they do the same thing for Akira, Hollywood won’t change a single thing about their practices. We as moviegoers should not reward the arrogance of Warner Bros. executives.

      • In my last paragraph, my typo is funny if I may say so myself. LSAT Airbender? An old tale about a kid trying to bend the truth, and cheat, so he can get a good score on the LSAT. :)

  18. I never saw anything that pointed to Albert Hughes making a definitive AKIRA movie. I still hope they make it but get much more closer to the anime in their next attempt. I think I am gonna watch right now

  19. old white guys playing young asian characters. epic fail.