‘Akira’ Moving Forward Again; May Begin Filming in Spring 2014

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 16th, 2014 at 9:24 am,

akira remake start date 2014 Akira Moving Forward Again; May Begin Filming in Spring 2014

A live-action U.S. movie adaptation of Akira – the touchstone Japanese comic book-turned animated feature created by Katsuhiro Otomo – is a project that has stalled, died, and been resurrected more times than a comic book superhero. The film has long been surrounded by controversy, with the principle objection raised by most fans being that the Hollywood-ization of the Asian source material is both ill-advised and culturally-insensitive; for Warner Bros., though, the big issue that keeps causing Akira to be put on hold (over and over) is the prospective budget.

When Akira sunk back into development limbo early last year, insiders at the time warned everyone that “It’s a very resilient movie. Warner Bros. just won’t let it die.” Sure enough, today we can announce that the project is lurching forward once more, with WB backing alongside Katsuhiro Otomo as an executive producer, in addition to Mad Chance’s Andrew Lazar (Jonah Hex) and Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran.

The Akira live-action movie script is reported to take place in “New Manhattan,” a futuristic version of Manhattan Island – where biker gangs and military factions wreak havoc in the streets, while the government conducts dangerous experiments – involving patients with incredible psychic abilities – behind closed doors. In the script draft written by Gary Whitta (After Earth), Manhattan had been purchased by the Japanese government, as a way for the economically-powerful country to deal with overpopulation problems – not to mention, a means to justify the casting of both American stars and Japanese actors in the film.

akira remake Akira Moving Forward Again; May Begin Filming in Spring 2014

Whitta’s Western-Eastern fusion approach reads as an intriguing solution to the dilemma that is presented by a U.S. take on Akira featuring Hollywood stars – namely, how to avoid completely white-washing the original story’s characters and post-WWII-influenced themes. Unfortunately, at this stage, there is no guarantee that the idea will be carried over in the final script draft, given the sheer number of rewrites the project has undergone since Whitta put together his screenplay - for Albert Hughes (Book of Eli), before he dropped out as director.

Variety is reporting that Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) is currently set to direct Akira, with a Spring 2014 production start date being planned. The filmmaker was previously attached to direct back in 2011, but left the project after WB declined to give the go-ahead because of the proposed $90 million budget; that is, despite claims from insiders about the project being officially green-lit at the time.

Interestingly, the price tag for Akira – at the time when Serra originally signed on – had dropped considerably, following on the heels of Hughes’ iteration – which has been estimated to cost $140 million to make. WB wanted the budget to fall closer to $60 million – and the studio is probably still wary of going over that number, when you consider the questionable commercial value of the East/West pop culture hybrid genre (see: the lukewarm U.S. box office for Pacific Rim - a movie that had much better pre-release buzz than Akira currently does).

WB apparently considered going extremely low-buget (relatively-speaking) with Akira following Serra’s departure, as the studio approached Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (Paranormal Activity 3 & 4) about directing at one point. However, Serra’s vision for the film – possibly based on the script draft written by Steve Kloves (who penned seven of the eight Harry Potter films) – is reported to have always been the studio’s favorite. That explains why the studio was willing to hold-off on moving in a different direction with Akira, while it waited for Serra to have another opening in his directing schedule.

So, now the question is: who, exactly, is going to headline Akira? Garrett Hedlund was previously attached to one of the lead roles, but it’s possible he may be preoccupied with shooting TRON 3 by the time Akira begins filming (assuming he hasn’t already dropped the project completely). Meanwhile, people like Kristen Stewart and Ken Watanabe (the Japanese Unforgiven remake) were offered roles back in the day, but that does not mean they will, for certain, be involved – even though Serra’s back at the helm again.

Tell us your thoughts and feelings about how the live-action U.S. version of Akira is shaping up – and who you would like to see headline the film – in the comments section.


Akira is tentatively slated to begin principal photography by Spring 2014, which could pave the way for the film to hit theaters by Spring/Summer 2015. Screen Rant will be sure to keep you updated on the situation.

Source: Variety

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
TAGS: Akira
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  1. God damn it, Hollywood. Can you not take a hint?

    • No, no Hollywood can not take hints less subtle than California sinking into the Pacific in a cataclysm of fire and shoes. Even then, I’m not sure.

  2. This REALLY depends on which version they’re looking at.

    The comic is HUGE and incredibly dense, so much so that Otomo himself had trouble condensing it down to fit in a the length of a feature film.

    That’s why a lot of themes and important characters are reduced or removed from the anime feature.

    Can’t go low budget on it…. would need at least Pacific Rim money (160-190m) to create the world, Otomo’s backgrounds are so rich with details that to lose that depth would leave any feature feeling a bit flat.

    Monster Tetsuo himself would be quite a challenge for the CG animators, let alone all the telekinetic effects.

    Seeing a live action Kaneda with bike and Laser Rife would be super cool though.

    This could end up a complete mess, going to needs someone with a steady hand as director and COMPLETE familiarity of both sets of source material for the screenwriter.

    You can’t do this project if your not 100% familiar with the comic and the themes and issues it was looking at. It’s not just OOH cool psychic powers and biker gangs.

    You’ve got a political story going on, you’ve got the nature of evolution, the nature of energy, memory and the universe, philosophy, a look at disaffected youth (prevalent in Japan at the time), power it’s corrupting effect. There’s an post apocalyptic story in there, very Mad Max with roving bands of thugs.

    There’s a LOT of stuff in there but you can’t (Otomo couldn’t) condense it all into a feature, you gotta cut to the chase and deal with the central characters but to do that effectively you need to know the WHOLE story otherwise it won’t work.

    Fingers, toes, you name it crossed but I have a bad feeling about this.

    • Filming in Japan isn’t cheap either so… *shrugs*

    • @Jonathan, Funny y mention the books. The people I know who read the books,hate the movie. Y feel the same way?

      • No I don’t hate the movie. Is it as good as the manga, no it’s not due to the vast scope of the manga.
        But judge it on its own merits the quality of the animation and the production values are first class, the Japanese voice cast is excellent (never watched the dub) the score is awesome (which is why I own that too). Only thing wrong is that the story isn’t as clear as it could be and the whole “Akira in a jar”
        As I mentioned else where on this thread the manga is TOO vast for a single movie and splitting it like Jackson’s done with the Hobbit would be the only option.

        • I can see this turning out like the live action DBZ movie.

  3. Make Ninja Scroll instead.

    • A live action Tassai, that would be cool. look what they achieved with Hulk in the Avengers, could so be done.

    • yes please

    • They’d probably cast white people for noaj scroll too

  4. Stop beating a dead horse! Nobody wants this movie to be made. We all know they make about 9/11 instead of Hiroshima/Nagasaki. After 1998 Godzilla, this will be yet another insult to Japanese culture.

  5. Not a fan of the idea of a “low budget” Paranormal activity style for this film. I am not as annoyed as the US version of Old Boy. (Spike Lee really?) but close.

  6. Hollywood has run out of fresh ideas for movies. So now they take Japanese cult movies and rehash them into b*******, Americanized versions. I am so tired of going to a cinema and my favorite memories of what I watched as a kid get messed up and destroyed by America. Wonder if hollywood would make a movie about the world uniting and destroying evil America? Now that I would pay to go watch in 3D. Just like 2012.

    • Yep,just like 47 Ronin :-(

      • 47 Ronin has a cast of real Japanese Actors, at least Keanu has some asian ancestry unlike Johnny who might be Native American. Hollywood likes to think with enough money we will swallow anything they feed us. Like Lone Ranger not watching this farce.

  7. Blasphemy!!!! I predict they’ll use the “Minority Reports” for the ESP kids

  8. I just can’t see this being pulled off, I hope it doesnt happen.

  9. At least Kaneda’s Bike can be accurately reproduced and functional.

  10. Get it right and they could make a mint. FYI. P Rim has made 300million in china in the last 2 days!!

    • To be exact, it’s set to make 300 million ren (Chinese currency) over the weekend. In American dollars that’s about 40/50 million.

      It’s got a long way to go to make 300 million dollars in China.

  11. I’m sorry I have no faith that Albert Hughes and the writer of Harry Potter can do this justice. The Anime was a work of genius, and to pull it off correctly in live action would take equal genius. Get someone that knows what the F they are doing or let it die

    • +1

  12. I thought that they put a stop to this already.

    As Johnathan points out, Akira is so complex, full of contrasting themes and deep subject matter. It’s why it’s so often looked upon as an actual movie as opposed to an animated feature length feature.

    Getting it done right on film would cost at least $250 million production budget alone.

    One does wonder how long it will be before we see a breakthrough and then boom in anime live action adaptations. There are some of course – Akira probably the biggest example – that cannot be done, unless they fully commit to the source.

    Most of the outrage against this proposed remake is that it will be diluted of all the raw, visceral energy presented in the anime version. That we will get a kid PG/12A orientated softer film – (a la Dragonball Evolution)

    Anime often has a mature level that live action movies often cannot reach. Just look at the extreme difference between the anime Streetfighter II and live action movie version to see how great anime can be. (Well the late 80s and 90s anime anyway)

    I just think if you are not prepared to go all the way , particularly with anime – then don’t do it at all.

    Having said this I do think other classic anime such as Ninja Scroll, Cyber City Odeo 808, Ghost In the Shell and Fist Of The North Star could be great on film if done properly.

    • 1. The Animated Street Fighter II is FANTASTIC. Love the sound track too (KMFDM – Ultra = Chun Li vs Vega = EPIC)

      2. The key to a decent live action anime version is to pick the right anime in the first place.

      Akira, IMMENSLEY popular, really the breakout anime for the majority of western fans so obviously ripe for the Hollywood remake.

      Big problem though is that it’s too complex. For those who have never read the manga it covers so many themes even Otomo himself had to condense it down for the animated feature.

      So a live action version of the comic is a no go, FULL STOP.

      So it’s a remake of the classic (and still complex) anime.

      Problem, only way to do it properly is to get top dollar guys (and gals) involved at the beginning, agree that it’s a massive production and bring in the best talent around…. true visionaries, get Ridley Scott from Blade Runner, not Prometheus.

      Problem, they’ve already started development work, stopped, started again, stopped, started again…. TMC = Too Many Cooks.

      Are they going to scrap EVERYTHING and start from scratch, no.

      So it’s going to be a mishmash so it’s going to be pants.

      Ninja Scroll could easily be done as live action…. hell samurai movies have been around in various forms for 60years.

      Cyber City would be tricky, best thing would be to come up with an original story based upon the world and the characters, maybe even a prequel before there incarceration, the three OVA’s stories don’t really tie together and trying to elongate one to feature length would have a lot of filler and be pants. Not aware of any manga material.

      Fist of the North Star – generic fighting movie, would of been perfect for the late 80′s early 90′s and there was a live action (low budget) version with Gary Daniels and Malcolm McDonald (????). Movie audiences have, generally (Grown Ups 2???? shocking) a more advanced pallet.

      Ghost in the Shell, would love to see that but again it suffers from the Akira condition in that it has some very deep and meaningful themes and would need top people in place RIGHT AT THE START with studio commitment to a 200m budget.

      What with all the borrowed themes from GitS in the original Matrix you’d think the Wachowski’s would be perfect but then look at the mess they made of Speed Racer and they’ve not really done anything as directors since.

      Anime is very much a double edged sword.

      The easy to replicate titles are usually pretty awful (yes there is a LOT of dog awful anime available, especially old stuff…. MD Geist, Violence Jack anyone)

      The Brilliant stuff (yes there’s a LOAD of brilliant anime) is usually either episodic or extremely dense in the subject matter and themes, both of which doesn’t translate well to a movie.

      Then there’s the problem with exposure…. the UK anime market is small and appears to be shrinking all the time and I would imagine that the level of exposure in the States isn’t too wide spread, especially when compared to DC or Marvel titles (even before the current movie boom)

      The studios need to find middle ground anime titles. Not garbage but not too deep or convoluted or extreme in the story and themes….. the anime Die Hard or Bourne…. simple, exciting action titles that don’t deal with complex themes.

      Ninja Scroll is perfect, it’s brilliant but it’s a samurai epic, pure and simple.

      Something like Dominion Tank Police would be awesome but the concept wouldn’t fly – Tank as police cars :) (plus there’s a whole ecological message in there)

      Tenchi Muyo / Urusei Yatsura / Oh My Goddess could all be fun Rom-Coms… get your girlfriends to go…. they’re chick flicks lol

      Come on anime fans….. more suggestions for live action anime that Hollywood could manage to do properly……..

      • one reason why anime movies do not do so good in hollywood is because they always go low budget. To make a good live action anime you need a high budget to get damn good actors, pull off the effects, and have a very good crew. If they keep low budgeting anime to live action will never work.

  13. /sigh

    Will someone PLEASE shoot this zombie of an idea in the head and finally be done with it?

    Either that or please don’t leech the name Akira and come up with your own title because this monstrosity is NOT Akira.

  14. Pacific Rim has set the bar really high for the East meets West sci-fi mash-up genre of anime inspired movies,even Godzilla(2014) is now going to be compared to Pacific Rim,even though Godzilla has been around for over 50yrs,and the quality of a Hollywood ‘Akira’ movie is going to be compared to both of those movies,so its surely going to face an uphill battle in its devolopmental future,but hopefully its does not end up being another Dragonball:Evolution or Street Fighter.

  15. One word:


    • + 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 + 1

  16. Ken Watanabe now get more asian actors/actresses

    also really.. Kristen Stewart? >.>

  17. “The Kid you brought in… his readings are off the charts!”

    If you can’t do this one right studios, don’t bother.

  18. I have not read or seen Akira, but from what I know, it seems like this needs to have an adequately big budget, or it would not even be worth doing. Correct?

    To be honest, though, Akira in concept seems more interesting than Pacific Rim. I enjoyed PR, but at least from my perspective, its pre-release buzz was based almost exclusively on Guillermo del Toro being the director. The concept itself was not that interesting from a “Western” perspective, and my faith that it would be actually interesting and/or worthwhile was because of who was making it.

    I think there could be potential for Akira to really be a true hit in the US *if* if was extremely well-done and marketed effectively. My faith in that happening? Not much.

    • Honestly, I think the damage is already done for Akira. Even if it does end up being good, the sheer negative reaction the internet has towards it is likely to take a huge chunk out of any possible box office total. Admittedly, this is just speculation and things could change over the next few years, but it seems unlikely. Then again, most people didn’t expect WWZ to do so well at the box office either.

      As for Pacific Rim, as much as I absolutely love that film, I’ll admit that (before I saw it), the only real reason I was so excited was because Del Toro was directing. However, that has more to do with the absolute ineptitude of the people marketing the film, than the film itself.

    • @ JerryoftheWest

      1. Get your bottom to your local library and descend on their anime section and ready ALL 6 volumes of the manga, you won’t be disappointed.


      2. Get on Netflix’s or LoveFilm or whatever streaming or film rental service you have access too and watch the animated feature, you won’t be disappointed.

      Even if you don’t enjoy (or follow) the story you can’t help but be impressed by the quality of the production of both the manga and anime, especially as it’s now 25 or so years old.

      As for budget, Pacific Rim was what 170-190m, to do Akira justice you’d be looking at the same if not 200m+ but as with Pacific Rim it would struggle to find a large US domestic audience and unlike Pacific Rim which looks like it’s going to have an impressive Far East Box Office, unless the final product was EXCEPTIONAL I could see a very poor Japanese box office.

      It will never get the investment it needs because it would be very unlikely to make it back so it’s budget will be downscaled so that it MAY just scrape it back if they decide to go into production.

      This is one Hollywood remake that needs to be left in development hell.

      (Unless it goes to Disney, they love to throw 200m+ at projects that never make any money… John Carter / Lone Ranger)

      • my bad… I meant MANGA section (if they rent out anime too then I’m covered) Ooops :(

  19. I’ve got a genius work of manga and a wonderful animated film with Akira. I don’t need a bastardized americanized low budget version of that masterpiece.

  20. It should be the wachowskis in my opinion. Maybe aaron-Taylor Johnson or Dane dehaan starring. Dane already did a lowered version of Tetsuo I think he could also pull off kaneda

  21. Hello mrs und mr I the Movie Hollywood
    For Thanks you Japan in
    Anime (fist of the north star the Movie)
    AKIRA the Movie yes list Hollywood
    Yes Said American und Japan
    The Movie Anime
    Street Fighter 2 the Movie

    Ryu und Ken und Guile und Chun-Li !
    The Movie ok A van Damme smlie for you Thanks American und Japan
    Copcom Game und The Movie

    2014 ->2015 the Movie ! Soon Thanks
    Hollywood the Movie for you American
    Und Japan for Thanks smlie Thanks

    Sylvester Stallone in John Rambo 5
    The Movie soon Thanks for you

    The TERMINATOR 5 the Movie
    In Schwarzenegger ok for Thanks

    American Hollywood the Movie for
    Thanks you yes smlie

    (Dirk Scholtes Deaf & Hard of Hearing)

  22. This guy should be Kaneda http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2853253/?ref_=nv_sr_1

    He is half asian and can appeal to both asian and mainstream audiences…He’s about to blow up real soon

    As for directors I would put James Wan, Justin Lin (both from Fast & Furious), Josh Trank (Chronicle), or Rian Johnson (Looper)…I don’t know why WB is wasting their time with Jaume Collet-Serra. In interviews he doesn’t seem to care much for the writing or appreciate the main characters AND he claims that Japanese don’t have a lot of feelings….so why is he so interested in the project? I don’t know.

    We need at least one of the leads to be Asian or at least half…this whole white-washing thing is something WB and Jaume should take more seriously. I mean come on this movie takes place in NEO-TOKYO and yet only may have Caucasian actors…Seriously people don’t mind a little color these days

    And as for Kristen Stewart? No….just no.

  23. WB has this wrong imo

    1. Make a freakin HBO/Cinemax series for about 2-8 yrs, yes its possible

    2. At some point during the series release the movie

    This way u should have explained atleast 80% of Otomo’s content in Akira and even tho WB would spend more then the proposed 60 million dollar budget making both a series and movie they would make more money as well. I understand that it would be alot to ask the same cast to do both so dont. Im sure there are alot actors/actress that would be willing to do either if not both a movie and cable series. If a TV series is a bad idea then think tank a trilogy or two.

    Its not hard to figure out why WB wants to see this thru, a franchise of only 1 movie and a manga series from the 80s that still makes a crap load of cash in 2014! OMG! How many times was Akira digitally remastered over the years, and most of us bought the directors cut 60.00 USD boxset eveytime. Ok maybe there a few fans in WB but this is also an investment, one worth the time and money it takes to do it right.

  24. All you have to say is Western/Eastern fusion, 60 million budget, unknown director, and Kristen Stewart and I’m out. Don’t bastardize a great film!

  25. I fear that this films messages regarding evolution are going to be lost in translation with WB attempting to over Hollywoodize the film. When I read “New Manhattan”, I was immediately pissed. What’s going to happen to the characters names? Are we doing to have a white Kandea and Tetsuo? Or are they changing their names? This project shouldnt even exist, AKIRA is a masterpiece of animation and should be left alone. Not looking foreward to this film…

  26. I would love to see a live action Akira-mix it with Japanese and
    USA actors.

    I would choose The Wachowski Brothers who made the matrix series-and with there
    budget for the matrix was 60 million and it made 463 million.

    There Anime fans too so there would represent just need right actors to pull
    it off and look at the special effects it hade in 2000-2004-today with more powerful
    CPU’s/GPU’s it can be pulled off.

    If you can squeeze everything into a cartoon then it can be done in film.
    I’d like to see Ghost on a shell too.

    Movies that out today suck so why not……

  27. Hurry up already and make it! It’s going to need a huge budget though, don’t short change this classic.