‘Akira’ Remake Officially Greenlit; Garrett Hedlund May Star

Published 3 years ago by , Updated March 9th, 2013 at 1:54 pm,

Albert Hughes Leaves Akira Movie Akira Remake Officially Greenlit; Garrett Hedlund May Star

Fans of Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 animated adaptation of his own 2,000 + page manga (re: Japanese comic book) Akira once again started gnashing their teeth earlier this week when news got out that Warner Bros. was on the verge of either greenlighting a live-action Americanized remake of the former… or sending the project back to development hell.

Reports are in that the studio will in fact press ahead with the Akira project – and that currently-attached Spanish helmer Jaume Collet-Serra already has a potential leading man in mind.

Variety says the decision to move ahead with the Akira remake was actually “sealed” this past weekend. When Collet-Serra was hired on as director (to replace Albert Hughes) this past summer, the film’s estimated budget had reportedly been brought down to $90 million – a significant drop from before, when it was pegged as being upwards of $140 million. While the current budget has yet to be disclosed, it presumably remains at least under $100 million.

The current front-runner to headline the live-action Akira as a biker gang leader (named Kaneda, in Otomo’s comic book/movie) is TRON: Legacy star Garrett Hedlund – who, you might recall, was on the Warner Bros.’ shortlist of wanted actors released in Spring 2011. No official offer has been made yet, but both Collet-Serra and his fellow producers are said to be “keen on the thesp.”

Hedlund was also previously rumored as a possible contender to star in David Slade’s Daredevil reboot. However, for the time being, his joining the Akira remake seems the more likely scenario.

Garrett Hedlund as Sam Flynn in Tron Legacy Akira Remake Officially Greenlit; Garrett Hedlund May Star

Garrett Hedlund as Sam Flynn in 'TRON: Legacy'

Iron Man co-scribers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby’s early screenplay draft for the new Akira revealed the live-action adaptation will be set in “New Manhattan” – a futuristic dystopian locale raised in the aftermath of a nuclear bomb explosion that was said to be the work of terrorists. The plot is set in motion when a member of Kaneda’s gang (Travis, a.k.a. Tetsuo, in Otomo’s original work) is captured by the totalitarian government and subjected to medical experiments that seek to enhance his psychic abilities. However, Travis soon develops destructive powers that even he cannot fully control – a situation that, it turns out, actually happened once before…

Screenwriters Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli), Albert Torres (Henry Poole is Here), and Steve Kloves have all worked on the Akira script since then, but the indication so far has been that they’ve primarily focused on restructuring the screenplay as a cheaper sci-fi/action tale. So the basic storyline and names from Fergus and Ostby’s draft should still be largely intact.

In other words: Warner Bros.’ Akira looks to essentially retain the same plot points as Otomo’s animated film adaptation, while also “Americanizing” the setting/characters and “updating” the narrative setup so that it has more of a contemporary feel. But is that a proper way to adapt this tale… or is it just artistic blasphemy?

Keanu Reeves passes on the Akira live action movie Akira Remake Officially Greenlit; Garrett Hedlund May Star

We’ve discussed before how Akira is arguably a case – unlike another upcoming controversial Americanized remake of an Asian cinematic cult classic, Oldboy – where the story is simply too much of a culture-specific allegory for Japan’s history (specifically, the aftermath of the atomic bombings during W.W. II) for it to have the same meaning and significance when transported to a U.S. setting.

On the other hand, Collet-Serra has delivered some enjoyable and intriguing action/thriller titles before (see: this year’s Unknown) and Hedlund is a decent choice to play a rebellious biker type – like he did in the TRON sequel. Plus, it sounds like the Akira remake will involve some interesting social/political subtext that could resonate with modern U.S. moviegoers.

It all comes down to this: like it or not, the Akira remake is now officially happening. So let’s just wait and see how it comes together before making any final decisions about the quality of this film.


Warner Bros. is aiming for principal photography on Akira to begin by late February/early March 2012. We will keep you posted on the status of the project in the meantime.

Source: Variety

TAGS: Akira
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  1. Check my fake AKIRA trailer out…. http://youtu.be/40KW9Qu0uyE

    As much as Im dying to see a live action version, everything Ive read to date about it does not sound promising.

  2. Well since they’re making it I just hope they do it as well as the can and hold true to the core narrative. Such a classic piece of writing and then cinema that it will be hard to live up to. Also, KEEP a lot if not ALL of the original movie score. Awesome music.

  3. :( You all know what this movie is going to be – garbage.

  4. Reducing the budget by 50 million dollars isn’t going to help this movie one bit,so right there it’s in trouble.

    Another mistake that I already see is making Hedlund the protagonist. I’m not bashing him as an actor,I just feel that he would fit better in the Tetuo role. If anyone has seen him in the Kevin Bacon movie Death Sentence knows what I mean.

    Either way,I’m not going to watch it anyway.

  5. No, no, no. This sickens me

  6. When I hear about a production company getting their hands on an IP to “update, reboot, or re-invent” it, I always think about Kevin Smith’s monologue about being approached to write Superman returns.

    This is kind of how I imagine the process is for the Akira remake.

    I hope this posts…

    • So it basically needs a giant robot spider in the movie to get people to flock to the cinemas!

  7. When I fist saw that this was coming I was so pumped… But all news is not good news in this case! Bust!

  8. So they’re going to make it an all white cast. Or make the villain Asian. Possibly an Asian sidekick. Easy pass.

  9. WB is AWESOME. This will be AWESOME. I know how they’ll do it. Same way they’ve always done it. They’ll get the same companies that made Superman Returns, Green Lantern, and Man of Steel on this. Because they got to grease the same monkeys every single time.

    • I just barfed a little…in my mind

  10. The movie is called Akira. If they white wash this cast it will have the same results as Air Bender and Dragon Ball. Hopefully they come to their senses. It’s 2011 and racism still exists. This is a perfect opportunity for Asian American Actors to get some screen time. If this is whitewashed it will experience a BIG BIG BACK LASH.

    • In my eyes they have absolutely no good reason to “whitewash” this movie. America is a multicultural society and an Asian bike gang should be no problem in this movie.

  11. Don’t get me wrong, this movie will suck in any way that matters, but, as long as it doesn’t interfere with filming “Tron 3″, I wish Garrett Hedlund the best of luck with this.

  12. NO————NO—-NONONONONONONO——————————————NONO———-NO—-NO———-NO——————————————NO–NO——–NO—-NO———-NO——————————————NO—-NO——NO—-NO———-NO——————————————NO——NO—-NO—-NO———-NO——————————————NO——–NO–NO—-NO———-NO——————————————NO———-NONO—-NONONONONONONO——————————————

    I bet that doesn’t work.

    • DAMMIT!

  13. Just call it something else please, don’t call it Akira, don’t dirty the name of a work of actual literature and art.

    You guys ever meet those older folks that never go to the movies anymore? This kind of news is how they got there…

  14. Well I think he’s a great choice to play Kaneda… You know, if they are going to make him white… But he’s not supposed to be white…*sigh* There is no upside to this… This movie has no chance, does it? O_o

    • Apart from the fact he’s about 24 years old and not 17.

      • Sorry. Actually thinking about it, I think Kaneda is supposed to be nearer 15.

        Anyway, he’s supposed to be a punk kid, not a twentysomething Urban Outfitters model.

        Movie exec 1 : “We need someone who people will associate with Motorbikes!”

        Movie exec 2 :”Garrett Hedlund rode a bike once”

        Movie exec 1 : “Perfect! Get him.”

        Movie exec 2 : ” now we just have to find an actor with one arm and a red cape”

        Movie exec 1 : ” can we have “Coca cola” on the back of his cape? Or maybe “Pepsi”?”

        Movie exec 2 : “I don’t think Pepsi could afford that.

        Movie exec 1 : ” How about we have this “Kevin” kid, you know, the one with the red bike!? Have him have like “Gatorade”, “Ikea”, “pepto Bismol”, “Starbucks” and “Gap” stickers all over his bike!”

        Movie exec 2 : ” Brilliant!”

  15. I fear Cowboy Bebop is next.

    • Edit: deeply fear

      • Actually, if they found actors who can portray deep, complicated emotions and get the tone right, I think a great Cowboy Bebop movie could be made. As long as they don’t try to condense the whole series into one movie like they did with Dragon Ball and The Last Airbender, but do like Cowboy Bebop the Movie and Trigun: Badlands Rumble and make it set in the middle-end of the series.

  16. Why? New Manhattan?

    TETSUO! KANEDA! KAOLEE!! (what was that girl’s name?) If they include the rape scene, or the drug vomit scene, or the flesh explosions, and mutilation or the city rioting and destroying the instition, will they get a PG rating?

    This movie is gonna suck, really suck.

  17. It’s going to be PG-13. It’s going to be miscast. It’s going to be bad. Hey, at least we got the anime! I can deal with a crappy adaption because even in the best case scenario it wouldn’t come close to the original!

  18. OK ‘Akira’ is going to get made and in 20 years it will be remade. The remake will probably be worth watching. This… true “Akira” fans can just safely forget. It doesn’t exist, its imaginary, it’s on the Alvin Pile.

  19. No No No NO NO

  20. The thing I really hate is people are gonna think of this movie when they hear people talk “Akira”. Just like with “Dragonball” and “Astroboy” (“Atom”). I’d rather people had never heard of “Akira” than associate it with the movie this is gonna turn out to be.

    It shouldn’t, but it does sully the reputation of a franchise when a bad movie bearing little or no relation to it’s source is made.

    It may be a good movie…….but it WON’T be “Akira”!

    ……and relax.

  21. I’m going to watch it. If done right, they could make a good movie, but the animated one SUCKS!

    • I mean because, not but

      • The Manga is completely different and far superior.

  22. Well did look cool on a mortal cycle and light cycle in tron legacy so theirs that…


      You fell into their trap. That’s what the movie execs want you to think!

  23. This wont work – simple as that no matter how positive an argument is presented – it will not work.

    Casting Hedlund as the lead is just a no – considering the blandness he brought to Tron Legacy.

    I’ve always felt works such as Akira or DragonBall Z were difficult to translate into live action. Despite them both being form of animation they both had a real cinematic quality that was unique. I think the only way you can visualize it successfully is be bold enough and go 100% with the source material. I’ll admit that Testuo’s graphic imploding would be too difficult to pull off, but the rest of the story is intelligent and plausible enough to film as it is.

    I think people don’t mind seeing manga or anime produced in live action just as long as it’s a pure faithful adaptation. A lot of classic anime from the late 80s to early 90s could easily be brought to the screen without having to be too ‘americanized’ or commercialized’

    Of course studios could do something truly extraordinary and come up with something original.

  24. …..and I’m now officially ticked off, disgusted and even a bit sick about this sad news.

    /boycotting this PoS.

  25. Hey, remember Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li and Dragonball? Well? That’s how you will remember Akira after it’s Americanized by idiots in Hollywood. All they do is take the animes we all like as cult classics and turn them into pieces of crap. How about the Last Airbender? you see my point. On another note, stop the post production 3D BS. Lucas, don’t have enough money from star wars? And now you want post 3D star wars and take peoples money with the economy so terrible. I am a fan of Star Wars, but i am not paying $15 dollars for 2 to 3 scenes of 3D action and the rest can be seen without my 3D glasses on because that’s what most post production 3D movies are like. I work with 3D imaging at my job. I guess George Lucas only knows Star Wars and nothing beyond that. James Cameron is the Science Fiction/Fact king. Meesa no like a youssa George. Probably should have committed suicide after jar jar bings was created, huh George?

    Also, Garret Hedlund not right for the part of Kaneda. Last i checked Akira, these are teenagers in biker gangs and not in their late 20′s. Kaneda is i think 17 or 18 years old. People should think of this as Twilight without all the lame vampires and huge jerk werewolves and a stuck up girl who teases everyone.

  26. Katsuhiro Otomo should be ashamed of himself for selling out his groundbreaking piece of art to Hollywood…Why do white people have to be at the center of everything in the blasted universe?

    • Actually, if you look at it, Caucasions are a minority. So, we aren’t the “center of everything”.

  27. White guy played Asian character. GARBAGE!

  28. I understand why Akira fans may be angry. This film is an “adaptation” not a word for word remake of the anime. I’m very happy to hear Garrett Hedlund’s name attached to this film he will do a great job. And who knows they will probably mix in some asian actors in the cast. But don’t get all upset because Garretts not asian just be happy it’s getting made by a major studio. If you don’t like it then don’t see it period.

  29. Why was Huges replaced? We never see any African Americans directing things like this. Hmmmm, why Hollywood? Why? Anyway, I’ve seen the original and I’ll see this one, but they better diversify the cast and not whitewash it. An interracial relationship would be nice (maybe a black girl paired with the main character. Dang I forgot his name). There are plenty of ways for this “adaptation” to go wrong. I hope they avoid pitfalls.