‘Akira’ Live-Action Remake Production Update

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 12:26 pm,

akira remake Akira Live Action Remake Production Update

Many a film buff is still fuming over Hollywood’s decision to offer its own spin on a cult piece of Asian cinema – namely, Oldboy. However, the Americanized remake that really seems to have angered the masses is Warner Bros.’ proposed live-action take on director Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 manga (re: Japanese comic book) adaptation, Akira.

We haven’t heard anything about the project since Jaume Collet-Serra signed on as the new director, this past summer. However, according to the latest report, the film could (or may not) be greenlit within a week from the time of writing this.

Iron Man co-scribers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby’s original draft of the Akira remake’s screenplay has seemingly undergone some serious revisions over the past year – what with people like Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli), Albert Torres (Henry Poole is Here), and Steve Kloves having all been brought onboard to rework it. Now, the script has apparently been revised enough so as to significantly lower its estimated budget (which was previously pegged at $140 million).

Variety says that the Akira production team have presented a thematically and financially restructured version of the project to Warner Bros. – and that “sources say most people are confident [Warner] execs will be happy with the new budget… but you never know in this town.”

It also ought to be mentioned that even if Warner Bros. doesn’t greenlight Akira in the immediate future, that does not mean the project should be considered truly “dead.” Case in point: the remake was thought to have been all but permanently dead back in Summer 2009 – only for news of its continued survival to pop up a few months later.

Albert Hughes Leaves Akira Movie Akira Live Action Remake Production Update

For those not familiar with Akira, here is an official description of Otomo’s film adaptation:

Neo-Tokyo has risen from the ashes of World War III to become a dark and dangerous megalopolis infested with gangs and terrorists. The government seethes with corruption and only maintains a token control over the powerful military that prevents total chaos and hides the secrets of the past. Childhood friends Tetsuo and Kaneda plunge into Neo-Tokyo’s darkest secret when their motorcycle gang encounters a military operation to retrieve an escaped experimental subject. Tetsuo, captured by the military, is subjected to experiments that make him a powerful psychic, but, unfortunately for Neo-Tokyo, Tetsuo’s powers rage out of control and he lashes out at the world that has oppressed him!

It’s not entirely clear whether the Akira live-action remake will be drawing its inspiration solely from Otomo’s film or also from the original 2,182-page manga (which Otomo wrote) – seeing how their respective storylines ultimately go in very different directions. However, Warner Bros.’ Akira will for sure not retain the Tokyo setting of Otomo’s source material… and instead, shifts the action to another dystopian backdrop: that of “Neo-Manhattan.”

The list of stars either rumored for – or said to have passed on – Akira includes Keanu Reeves, Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class), Chris Pine (Star Trek), and Ryan Gosling (Drive), among several others. However, all of these actors are far older than the Kaneda and Tetsuo characters in both Otomo’s original movie and comic book. That’s yet another reason to suspect that the live-action Akira film will indeed feel quite different than its predecessor.

Frontrunners to play Kaneda and Tetsuo in Akira Akira Live Action Remake Production Update

Kaneda and Tetsuo in the 1988 'Akira' movie

One of the arguably more legitimate complaints (from an artistic perspective) that’s been made about the idea of an Americanized take on Akira is that its storyline is very much a culture-specific allegory rooted firmly in Japanese history – specifically, the aftermath of World War II. Hence why this could be viewed as one of those situations where the cultural/racial background of the story and characters is very much not an extraneous detail (see: our “Changing Face” piece for a deeper discussion of this topic).

With all that said: some truly noteworthy talent has been hired on to rework and refine the Akira remake – not to mention, the high-pedigree of actors being pursued – so it’s certainly possible this project will ultimately be able to stand on its own and not merely feel like a (pardon the term) bastardization of its inspiration. We shall see…

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We will continue to keep you posted on the status of the Akira remake as the story develops.

Source: Variety

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  1. This remake idea need to be killed and buried 6ft under

  2. The entire concept is too deep for Hollywood. They only see the outer shell that is motorcyle racing.

    • Completely agree.

      Hollywood working title for Akira?: “Akira and Furious, a Motocross Tale.”

      Like all product-branding they do, they’re going to slap the name Akira on a story that’s very un-Akiralike, throw in all the generic, cliched, predictable plot elements they want for every movie in order to hit on all demographics (stuff for the kids, the teens, the boys and girls, men and women, Twilight fans, etc.), rendering the movie completely toothless.

  3. My hell, this is like the movie idea equivalent of a freakin’ zombie!

    Would someone PLEASE stop shooting it in the chest and brain it already (and always make sure to double tap…..just to be sure ;) )

  4. Neither Oldboy or Akira should be Americanized, the reason for their success was definitely as the writer said -culture specific- and the plots much too deep for the Hollywood cashiers. They certainly will leave out or change the most crucial elements to those stories because “they’re too far out there” and too rich for their palates.

    • Damn Hollywood executives will remake anything, all to have a familiar name slapped on its canned product, nevermind that the end result has nearly absolutely nothing to do with that familiar title.

      Whom exactly are they targeting with this product? Surely not the fans of the manga or the 1988 movie.

      And mainstream audiences now aren’t all too familiar (if at all) with Akira. So… what’s the point?

      Would I want to see Lord of the Rings set in Japan? No, not really. There are certain stories that are culturally and racially specific. Akira is one of them.

      And, besides, even strictly on a filmic level, they’re going to bastardize the story and probably tack on some sappy, happy ending because “people like to leave the theater with a smile on their face.” Maybe they’ll also make Akira about a romance between a young boy and girl, trying to keep their love blossoming amid a post-apocalyptic backdrop.

      No, post-apocalyptic is too gloomy. Change it to war-torn. Nah, too gritty. Change it to after a storm. No, still too depressing. How about, to after a heavy rain? OK, sounds good!

      • I totally agree. Well said.

      • Ha ha ha, you pretty much nailed it there. :)

      • Love your response bro. They should make the movie and stick to its ethinical background and culture of Japan. Hollywood is stupid, the name Akira alone hints that he is of asian decent, I find that directors are reluctant to pick young minority actors in big movies and like making changes to satisfy what they want from the product instead of the consumer.

  5. Akira should not be “Americanized”…. I agree with everyone who says it should die and be left on the floor. The Japanese do have *** SOME *** manga/anime properties that *** COULD *** be given a good Hollywood treatment, but no one has the guts to try them b/c they aren’t American to begin with.

    Akira is a wonderfully complex saga that is very hard to follow and get lost in if you’re not careful. Hollywood couldn’t do Akira justice with anything less than 3 parts running 2.5 hrs. each, a good director like Ron Howard or James Cameron, and a budget of no less than $200 million.

  6. They can only remake this with Zack Efron starring…period, point blank and Hugden rockin a full frontal shot.

  7. Where are the avengers when you need them, they need to stop Warner Bros. from ruining a classic film. Its not like anyone a bored for the project (to my knowledge) has expressed a significant love for the film because if they did they would not do it… but I am not saying that we shouldn’t turn Manga’s in to live action films, try a few more less known ones and see if they work before you deal with the godliness of Akira, because we all know how “great” Dragon ball Z turned out to be.

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