‘Unknown’ Director Jaume Collet-Serra to Direct ‘Akira’ Remake

Published 4 years ago by , Updated August 9th, 2013 at 9:36 am,

According to a new report, director Jaume Collet-Serra is set to direct the long-gestating live-action Akira remake. That’s right – a Spanish director is helming an American remake of a classic Japanese anime. How very international!

Prior to Collett-Serra’s confirmation, several directors were attached to the project, most notably Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli). However, Hughes left the project in May about a week after Keanu Reeves passed on playing the lead in the film, leading to a fresh round of contenders.

As noted in Variety, Collett-Serra is a relatively smart (and safe) choice to direct the project. Since his directorial debut with the horror film House of Wax (which was mostly memorable for impaling the God-awful Paris Hilton), Collett-Serra has successfully taken on a range of increasingly large-scale projects. Most recently, he directed the Liam Neeson thriller Unknown, which, while not a critical success, was a sleeper hit at the box office.

Obviously Akira will be a much more high-profile project for the director, but given the film’s rocky road thus far, it makes sense to give it to someone known for his stability. Now we just have to wonder whether or not the studio can cast the right actors for the project.

As we reported back in May, studio executive were eyeing a wide range of young talent for the movie. Quoting our report:

The five actors reportedly in contention to play Kaneda are Michael Fassbender, Garrett Hedlund, Joaquin Phoenix, Chris Pine, and Justin Timberlake. The trio of men in the running to star as Tetsuo are Andrew Garfield, James McAvoy, and Robert Pattinson.

Many readers were incensed that the studio was looking at so many white actors, as opposed to casting Asian actors in the roles to stay true to the source material. Personally, I was non-plussed by the news. It’s a well-known fact that Hollywood whitewashes its movies, and that’s not going to change as long as the dominant moviegoing demographic is young white males.

Frontrunners to play Kaneda and Tetsuo in Akira Unknown Director Jaume Collet Serra to Direct Akira Remake

Who will play Kaneda and Tetsuo?

The really interesting question is whether a live-action Akira remake will go over well with audiences regardless of its cast. Although the film plays a prominent role in the history of anime, and is widely admired by genre fans for its cyberpunk plot and layered themes, I’m not certain that mainstream audiences will connect with the story. In fact, I’m not even sure most mainstream audiences are familiar with the original film. Then again, maybe that will make it easier for the studio to market, since it means lower expectations.

In any case, Akira is a perfect fit to launch that age-old Screen Rant debate on remakes. Might Akira be better off as a beloved, but niche, cult film than a Hollywood blockbuster? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Source: Variety

TAGS: Akira
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  1. the question should be “is this the right project for anyone”.

  2. No he is not the right man for the job. No one is the right man or woman for the job because this movie should never be made.

    • The suits in Hollywood will never listen, it’s all just numbers & money to them, a cash grab, as long as someone high up enough sees the potential for even a minute amount of profit for them to buy their next yacht/million dollar hooker/mansion whatever, then they will continue to desecrate and defile even the most beloved stories.

      Stay tuned for Evil Dead remake…

  3. Last time i checked these are kids in a biker gang and not adults that shouldn’t be playing the part . No wonder all anime that gets americanized get ruined. Dragonball was a piece of crap and The Last Airbender was crap, but it had some promise. Why is it so hard to stick to the storyline and the character demographic. Garrett Hedlund and Chris Pine look fine, but are too old for the part. The part should go to actors in their early 20′s. Someone like Shia Lebouf who’s about the right age for it, but don’t cast him for this film. Please someone stop casting Justin Timberlake in movies. He has no right being in them. The only reason “Juststop Gingerbake” got a part in the Social Network was because he took a pay cut and the person the studios wanted quit for something else. I hope James Cameron does justice when he starts filming Battle Angel. JC won’t fail us with 2 highest grossing movies of all time. HAIL KING CAMERON!!!

  4. I just don’t see how they can make this into a live action movie. IF they stay true to the animé people will be leaving the theater with only one thought on their minds …”WTF was that?!”
    Akira is not a see-it-one-time and understand it kind of event.

  5. please let this die already!

    • I didn’t read this comment and practically wrote the same thing…

      Word anchampion03, Word.

  6. chris pine for Kaneda and James McAvoy for Tetsuo.
    I’d rather see it made totally japanese.
    plus joseph gordon levitt should be Tetsuo.
    ‘s a shame he hasn’t been approached

  7. Dude, unknown sucked. What a horrible choice, I thought the hughes bros were a good choice seeing as how they are true nerds. Duncan jones foe the win.

  8. I’m sorry but I really hope someone doesn’t mess this up

  9. terrible!! A hack director who made rasberry winner house of wax is the least qualified to make this movie. Expect a new drangonball evolution.

  10. Not too sure about this, could be good but will never top the anime. Could be a good movie, it has a decent chance if they stay fairly close to the original.

  11. Akira is a movie about being Japanese. It’s main themes aren’t transcendent and a lot or other audiences don’t understand them and very few can connect to them, and so a whitewashed version won’t be significant to us or everything will be lost in the translation.

  12. Funny comment on Hollywood whitewashing, since Anime is probably more guilty as a genre of that same practice than any other. Look at your own screenshots of Kaneda and Tetsuo – hardly the most Japanese-looking fellows. I think it’s a moot point.

    It’s a moot point anyway, since this remake is sure to suck. As far as I know, not a single fan of the original has ever thought to himself, “Gee, I’d love to see a remake of Akira”. If us Japaholics had a lobby, it would be Final Fantasy VII getting remade.

  13. I really don’t consider this a “remake”. It is crossing the boundary from animation to live action which are two completely different animals. Even if they matched the animated movie frame for frame it will not look the same. So I would call it almost a translation or re-imagining.

    Regardless, everything we know thus far about this project is going bad so having an unknown person direct only further dooms this project. I can only imagine the reason why is because no other self respecting director would touch it. Hell, even Keanu Reeves passed on the project! Catch a clue people.

    I have always said if they were going to do this it should be done by the Japanese IN Japan, not re-written and based in the USA. What they are doing would be akin to some Japanese film group deciding to “remake” The Wizard of Oz and ground it in Japan for the Earth elements and change the Oz landscape to an Asian one. It just ain’t right.

    • Lol I could see the wizard of oz being an anime. It’s full of crazy random stuff like an anime is :P

      But in all seriousness, I agree that it should be based in Japan.

    • Keanu Reeves felt that the script lacked depth for him to properly showcase his acting prowess.


      I think I peed a little.

  14. I’ll tell you what these people aren’t listening. They bought the rights to use the story, just dispense with the “Akira” title and rewrite the story with the things they want to portray, the gang motorcycle youths in a post apocalyptic setting that gets involved in a clash with the establishment when one of their own is taken and experimented on. It won’t be “Akira” just based on the story outline so that gets in the credits. It would also allow them to play to American pop sensibilities and allow the film to take an independent direction from its source, giving it more American appeal.

    Really anyone against this adaptation that thought that “X-Men: First Class” was a good idea, should look closely at their artistic sense and motives because really the same issues are buried in the making of this movie as well.

  15. Why, oh why is this project not dead? Please won’t someone kill this, please.


  17. Oh jesus thank f*ck when I first saw the headline at first glance I was so scared shia labeouf was playing Kaneda

    The Horror

  18. “they really have a lot of faith in the film as a summer blockbuster…”

    Thanks for bringing that to us Keith but I really think Paramount has lost touch with reality with this. “Akira” might have world recognition but it’s definitely niche recognition in the U.S. If and that’s a big if they could navigate all the hazards I could see it doing medium amounts of business sort of like “The Transporter” or Mission Impossible III.” Neither of those movies did impressive domestic business. Foreign numbers made those movies profitable. Same with “Akira.”

    I really wonder what on Earth the Asian market is going to think of this when they have such a clear perception of the emotional impact the original achieved, only to find that essential component missing from this? Why would it be missing? Because the general public in the U.S. has never developed that sense of taste for those feelings. It’s not achieved that often here. It’s would be like a Carney vendor trying to sell Beluga Caviar at a state fair. It ain’t going to go over big…

  19. Warner Brothers is the studio behind this, not Paramount. Looks like you’ve posted this on the wrong thread (although you also have the most random use of a real-life name as your screen name I think I’ve ever seen, so maybe not…). :-D

    • …and about two years late…

  20. Well, the Robotech movie is going to be whitewash too and I don’t see anyone complaining about that. Oh, that’s Right… If The Akira’s anime was renamed and rewritten like Robotech [Macross], then no one would care that Akira was whitewashed. In fact, they probably like that verson more and call it a gate way to anime. You know, back in the days when it was OK to say: Japanese names are too foreign. Or I like Rick Hunter over Hikaru Ichijo because Ricks not Japanese.