Unknown's Jaume Collet-Serra Will Take Over The Akira Remake That's Still Happening
When Albert Hughes walked away from his job directing a live-action version of Akira at Warner Bros., it seemed safe to assume the studio might abandon the project. After all, they'd lost out on their first choice, Keanu Reeves, to layman character Kaneda, and Americanizing a story that many felt was inherently Japanese seemed like a huge challenge that might just not be worth it. And yet, for whatever reason, Warner Bros. is soldiering forth-- Variety reports that Jaume Collet-Serra, who most recently directed Unknown, is in talks with the studio to direct Akira, which is being re-imagined as "a $90 million tentpole."
At various points in the recent development of the project rumors had the budget at $140 million or even higher, and it made sense that the studio was trying to find a big-name star to anchor it, even if 40-something Keanu Reeves made pretty much no sense cast as the teenage gang leader Kaneda. At $90 million Akira would still be expensive, especially for an adaptation of a Japanese manga and animated film that has a relatively small fanbase in the United States, but the studio has always been mysteriously dogged about getting this project made, so I don't expect to start understanding them now.
As for Collet-Serra, the studio has clearly been high on him since Unknown did so well earlier this year, as he also made the shortlist for directing the 300 prequel, now called 300: Battle of Artemisia. Back in February he was also reportedly working on a remake of Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Cercle Rouge. If Akira really is going forward, and Warner Bros. really is as committed to making it as they seem, Collet-Serra probably won't have time for much else in the coming years. He's an interesting enough director, having also turned in the bizarre but fascinating Orphan, but from what we've seen not enough of a distinctive voice to draw any extra interest to Akira, a project that still seems best left alone at this point.
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