Jonathan Nolan Being Eyed To Re-Write ‘Akira’

Published 3 years ago by , Updated July 31st, 2013 at 10:17 am,

akira adaptation Jonathan Nolan Being Eyed To Re Write Akira

The live-action American version of Akira is a fascinating beast. Fans of the original cult Japanese comic book/animated movie are (almost) universally against it, the majority of casual moviegoers are unfamiliar with the source material, and it’s a project that has nearly died multiple times without even getting past the development stage. And yet, Warner Bros. just refuses to give up on it completely.

Studio heads have halted production on Akira, with initial reports claiming that it was due to budgetary concerns. Now, however, word has gotten out that it’s because Warner Bros. simply wants the film’s screenplay reworked again - and they’re eying some pretty noteworthy talent for the job.

Variety has it on good authority (re: according to its insiders) that WB isn’t primarily interested in slashing Akira‘s budget down even further from the already-reduced $90 million it was previously set at; rather, executives apparently feel more “fixes” need to be completed on the screenplay for the dystopian sci-fi cyberpunk thriller.

Quick project history: Gary Whitta (The Book of Eli) was first brought onboard to pen the new Akira, but it seems his script work was largely discarded when screenwriting duo Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Children of Men, Iron Man) were hired on for the project, back in 2009. Whitta was reportedly brought back to work on the Akira screenplay back when the Hughes Brothers were set to direct the project; thereafter, Albert Torres (Henry Poole Is Here) took a stab at it, followed by Steve Kloves, the writer responsible for 7 of the 8 Harry Potter movies. Little-known screenwriter David James Kelly was responsible for tweaking and polishing off the most recent Akira script draft.

(Take a moment to process all that before continuing on…)

Warner Bros. is now looking to hire on someone else to work on the Akira screenplay and focus on certain “character elements and particularly [the] pic’s look.” The top two candidates are: Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight, Person of Interest) and Michael Green (Green Lantern, Heroes).

Between the two new potential Akira writers, it’s fair to say that Nolan definitely has the stronger overall track record and his involvement would lend the project some much-need credibility, in many fans’ eyes. Combine that with the news that Warner Bros. has narrowed down its choices for the dramatically-meaty part of Tetsuo to Boardwalk Empire‘s Michael Pitt and Dane DeHaan (who looks to play a very similar role quite well, in the upcoming Chronicle) and there is yet some glimmer of hope for this film.

Still – after all the directing change-ups, numerous re-writes, and the questionable nature of this project in the first place, it’s hard to not suspect that Akira will ultimately amount to another over-cooked and expensive gamble that doesn’t pay off nearly as well as studio heads had hoped (recent examples include Cowboys & Aliens and TRON: Legacy).

We will continue to keep you updated on the status of Akira as more information is released.

Source: Variety

TAGS: Akira
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  1. Jonathan Nolan couldn’t even polish the script for Terminator Salvation. He’s nothing w/o his brother.

    • He’s the writer to Chris’s storyteller, which is why they work so well together as a team but separately (writing wise) they lose the shimmer.

    • Nolan started rewriting as they were shooting i dont think thats his fault that movie took alot to be saved better director, better story, better everything christian bale overacted and terminator salvation had a huge plot hole if kyle reese was captured in custody why wouldn’t they kill him? Reese is the primary reason for connors existence, that movie was beyond saving. Now has christopher nolan helped him throughout his career absolutely. The prestige is a movie alot of people either think is a masterpiece or think it’s slighty below average. For my taste that script was very polished in comparison to chris nolans other films and idk how much of the credit goes to jonah or chris or the source material but from what i hear jonah nolan wrote most of it and thats an very intresting script. Also the dark knight is very well paced and written quite well. I also quite enjoy person of interest so i believe he’s a very capable screenwriter, but hey thats all opinion….

      • The Terminator series as a whole has been marred by massive plot-holes. The whole terminator coming from a terminator catch, if you will. Why would you not kill Conner to stop the future from happening? No Conner, no terminator coming back in time to kill him, thus no terminator tech to develop Skynet. Besides which, if you succeed in avoiding the development of Skynet, time travel, etc, then Reese never goes back in time and fathers Conner, meaning he’s a huge paradox and should immediately cease to exist, no?

        As silly as it sounds, I could never get past this and enjoy the Terminator series because of it.

        • Time travel = plot holes.

  2. Nolans a very talented screenwriter i really liked what he contributed with the prestige and the dark knight and i hear his interstellar screenplay is very good. But this project looks like a fail, if anything i think nolan should begin working on interstellar the hype around that script has me very intrested or he should just direct some features, the kid is extremely talented. And this movie, might be something he cant save.

  3. the dude who did batman is going to do akira?…….i think im going to go find a gun cause life just started sucking horribly. besides batman sucks anyways and its NOT CANON TO BATMANS MAIN STORYLINE(its a film series about spin-off comics…cmon man)

    • kaze…

      I won’t comment on your opinion of the Batman films, because that IS your opinion, thus none of my business nor concern. I will, however, point out that the story may not be canon to whatever is happening in the comic series, but that is actually true of the comics, themselves. Quite often, THEY are not canon…

      As for Jonathan Nolan writing the “Akira” screenplay, I think he has the talent to write a good one…but it shouldn’t be called “Akira”. That seems to be where a good bit of the fans’ aggravation lies. If they make a film INSPIRED by “Akira” instead of trying to remake it, they can probably find more success and acceptance.

    • Kaze

      You should just look at The Dark Knight Trilogy as a one shot (or tripple shot) graphic novel. There’s a beginning, middle and end. Its the same as those Elsewhere stories or The Ultimate Universe. Ppl need to stop gettin hyped up about comic cannon. Especially when comic cannon is laughable for both (DC &Marvel).

  4. Having trouble getting support for your movie project? Attach a Nolan to it. This movie is still a bad idea regardless.

  5. Jonah: Ok, first step, instead of the day to day drudgery of real life Americans really want to be transported away right now. They want to be taken to foreign locals, where they can still experience an urban settings but with I don’t know a Samurai spirit, maybe somewhere in Japan.

    Studio Exec: Like China…no, Asia!

    Jonah: …Maybe, because it’s URBAN, somewhere that rhymes with OK YO!

    Studio Exec: OK YO, OK YO… Tokyo!

    Jonah: BANG!…Sorry that was the sound of my mind being blown. Now our target demo they’re mostly teen boys between 12 and 20. And we’ve got Garrett Hedlund playing the lead, OooooKaaay.

    Studio Exec: Why what’s wrong with G-dog.

    Jonah: Nothing it’s just…Spielberg would have made these characters teenagers but you know whatever.

    Studio Exec: We could do that too!

    Jonah: Great idea, hey who’s writing this pic anyway!

  6. Flip! I thought this had finally died. God knows why they are trying to make a film that the fans don’t want and regular moviegoers have never heard of!???

  7. Why are people calling Jonathan Nolan Jonah!?!? Haha! I’m sure he goes by Jon for short. Jonah!? Really?

  8. The anime and manga will still be intact. You can choose to either watch and complain more or just ignore it. I just want to see how it turns out.

    • Ignoring things don’t make the problems go away.

      • I meant, Ignoring things DOESN’T…

  9. Not even Christopher Nolan himself could save this adaptation.

    Please, I beg of the Screen Rant crowd to not see this load of junk if/when it hits theaters “just to see how bad it is.” Any money given to this is as good as supporting it.

    • I’m going to watch it 20 times. =] With 20 friends. See ya there!

      • KnockKnock. Who’s there? It’s bad. It’s bad what? “I don’t care!”

  10. Why don’t they just do a live action shot for shot remake of the original anime film?
    That’ll attract movie goers who aren’t fans of anime without bastardizing the original and have a less of a chance of alienating the original fans.

    Plus…lets face it, good or bad, love it or hate it, we’re all going to see it. We’ll talk all kinds of sh*t about how horrible it is, but they’ll still have our 10bucks….13buck, since you know it’ll be in 3D

  11. Maybe if Christopher Nolan , instead of his relative was the motivating force this could be made with success.
    Akira is a special property and great care would be needed to make this anything but a typical Hollywood disaster.I think removing it from it’s Tokyo 3 environs is the killer mistake these producers are contemplating.

  12. PLEASE stop………please. I’ll even give them 5 bucks to NOT try to rewrite the script. Let it die.

    What I don’t get through ALL the rewrites and revisions is, they already HAVE a screenplay to work from, the anime this is being based on. You might want to shoot a scene from a different angle or change the wording in places but to deviate from the original too much and it won’t be Akira anymore. So why it is so damn difficult?

    If it’s going to be a significantly different as is sounds then why the hell don’t they just change the names while the are at it, and call it something ELSE (and then say inspired by Arika)

  13. Put icing sugar on it and whipped cream, and use a world class chef, but a turd is still a turd.

    Have any of these writers even read an Akira comic book?
    It seems that they have broken down the story to its most basic elements,
    i.e. teenagers, mind powers, bikes = cool. So they couldn’t care less where it is set. Another mindset which I find unbelievable, is that they probably assume that Americans do not care about any other country except America, therefore why would they care about a story set in Japan, with Japanese characters. This is all about the bottom line, and Studios want to give people what they know they want, and know will sell tickets. It doesn’t seem to be about the story anymore with Studio execs pulling the strings. Look at Green Lantern, that suffered from Studio exec interference according to the director.
    They don’t want to take a risk anymore – they want to play it safe.
    And that is annoying and sad to see.

    • can you blame them? When studios do take risks, they fail! People in General do not want change or something different. They want to be fed the same BS over & over. That’s why theres so many sequels. And it can go for music, video games to movies. They always want to see or hear something familiar because giving something new a chance requires too much effort I guess.
      And about this movie, either way I’m not going to lose any sleep but I would like to see where this goes.

  14. Is Katsuhiro Otomo alive? Find him, get him to re-write the script.

  15. They should clear up if this adaption is based on the Film or the Manga.

    Obviously if it’s based on the Manga there is a lot more source material and I can understand why the script may need to be rewritten. The focus or emphasis on a particular plot point could be increased or dropped all together.

    But if this is based on the animated film … what is there to rewrite? Tweaking maybe … but no rewrite should be needed.

  16. I watched Akira the movie to see what all the buzz was about. Now I can tell….a live action movie is not needed at all. The animated movie is great as it is, it has really good visuals. I dont think they can even get close to the animated feature in my opinion

    • I disagree…..BUT… commit to equaling the anime they would have to hire an Asian cast, film on location in Tokyo, and then dump in like 200 million for FX. Even then it would be a risk so I have to ask, why? Just watch the anime and be happy.

  17. Here is an idea. If you are casting virtual no-names in the league, hire some ASIANS. As great as Nolan is as a screenwriter, I dont think anything can stop WB from just butchering this.

  18. Let the whitewash begin, they should hire Woody Allen to direct, he would never hire asian actors unless they are children that will serve him dinner.

  19. Much respect to Chris Nolan and his brother (Jonathon). “Person of Interest” is a decent show to watch Jon. Screenplay for The Dark Knight was awesome, but TDK Rises does not look promising from the trailer and images. I hate Anne Hathaway as Catwomen because she sounds horrible and not provocative at all. Bane looks alright, but still unsure. The hidden story behind it looks promising. Ras’ Al Ghul (Liam Neeson)and his daughter Talia(? – seems obvious, but i will not spoil it) will provide a great back to the beginning story.TDK Rises will not beat The Dark Knight!

    As for Akira, unless you can stay true to the manga and cast decent actors (age appropriate to the manga)and less know actors (non big time hollwood stars). The way i see it is that the less you pay big time actors to be in the movie, the more money the studio has to get the film right. Otherwise, as i said before this adaption is a trainwreck because hollywood does not understand ANIME! Dragonball? Street Fighter? The Last Airbender? etc…?