BREAKING MOVIE NEWS
The long-touted Akira film has been delayed by yet another issue, which looks set to push its production back even further.
And hey, it looks cool: Akira DOES translate to live-action in its visuals, even if this is a much milder evocation of the original material.
Jaume Collet-Serra was the last filmmaker involved in Warner Bros.’ ill-advised in-development live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s acclaimed manga and anime film. Warner Bros. had constantly been tamping down their ambitions, claiming it would be a trilogy, then two films, then one mega-budgeted one - the budget of which kept slipping.
Another question mark that remains is Garrett Hedlund. The Tron Legacy star has been attached to play the lead role in the movie since November 2011, but it's unknown if he will actually be available whenever Akira does finally get rolling. The trade seems to suggest that if the scheduling does work out, then he will still be the guy.
There's that famous Winston Churchill quote "If you're going through hell, keep going," and I have to imagine WB executives have it taped above their desks as they continue to try and save a project that, in essence, is an expensive adaptation of a Japanese manga that most Americans aren't familiar with, and the ones who do know it are passionately against the idea of an American remake.
It would seem that the live-action remake of Akira just can't seem to stay out of trouble. Since its inception the project has been hitting pothole after pothole, going through rewrites, pre-production shutdowns and even director changes. For a while it looked like things were on track, with Jaume Collet-Serra attached to direct and Garrett Hedlund attached to star (with names like Kirsten Stewart, Ken Watanabe and Helena Bonham Carter rumored for other roles).
This all sounds a lot like the original manga and anime, and the part that doesn't-- Kaneda as a bar owner?-- doesn't seem to change things too much. It's unclear how the Neo-Manhattan setting will compare to the original Neo-Tokyo, or how white actors like Hedlund or Ezra Miller will play characters with blatantly Japanese names like Tetsuo and Kaneda
Watanabe makes a lot of sense to play the role, but it's terrible that the choice is obviously for the wrong reasons. Thanks to his parts in Inception, Batman Begins and The Last Samurai, the actor is probably the most recognized Japanese thespian in America, and therefore a perfect way for WB to say that the entire movie isn't being whitewashed. Politics aside, what do you think of Ken Watanabe playing The Colonel?
I don't know if you heard about this, but there is a movie called Twilight - Breaking Dawn: Part 1 coming out this weekend. All kidding aside, though, Twilight really has taken over the news in the past couple weeks, and that even includes movies outside of the franchise. Just last week we saw the first trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman, a movie starring Kristen Stewart...
Both Miller and Ehrenreich seemed more interested in making their names as serious actors in small-scale films-- Ehrenreich has the favor of the Coppola family and that's no small thing-- but I guess when Warner Bros. comes calling with a franchise and a big paycheck, you'd be an idiot to say no. Now that Akira has a green light we can reasonably expect this long-delayed project to actually happen
Last month, the long-floundering, live-action remake of Akira finally got the greenlight from Warner Bros. As if that wasn't surprising enough, they purportedly even had a front-runner in mind for the lead: TRON: Legacy star Garrett Hedlund. It made sense -- Hedlund is a rising star, and science fiction clearly suits him, since the TRON sequel is his highest grossing role to date. Plus, as Eric pointed out at the time, he's already demonstrated a knack with futuristic motorcycles.
Well, the rollercoaster existence of the live-action, English language Akira remake is finally starting to even itself out, having gotten the greenlight early last week. Tron: Legacy’s Garrett Hedlund may take on the lead role of Kaneda, but the rest of the rather large cast has yet to be filled, save for two roles
'm amazed that the live-action, English language remake of Akira is still alive. In addition to the fact that the project has been toiling in development for years now, earlier this year the pre-visualization team was let go and director Albert Hughes vacated the director's chair. He was replaced in July by Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra, but news about the film came to a screeching halt afterward. That is, until this past week.
Even if the live-action version gets underway, we have to start wondering how many changes will be made. Months ago, concept artists Chris Weston took to his blog to talk about the ways Hughes wanted to doctor the original. Most, as you’d guess, weren’t great.
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
Chris Weston was working for the past year as a production artist on Albert Hughes’ planned live-action version of Katsuhiro Ohtomo’s anime classic Akira. And even though the project reportedly isn’t happening any time soon, Weston takes to his blog to inform fans that pulling the plug on the project probably was best for all involved.
When we last heard from Warner Bros' live-action remake of Akira, Keanu Reeves had passed on the project, the studio had shut down the pre-visualization department, and most of the staff working on the film was let go. When writing up the story I mentioned that I was somewhat surprised that Albert Hughes, the assigned director of the project, had managed to hold on to his job through all of the chaos
While Akira may still live, it sounds as though they are now attempting a major overhaul as a means to turn fortunes. Considering the many, many shifts it's actually impressive that Albert Hughes has managed to hold on to his job. With Reeves leaving perhaps now they'll do the right thing and make an effort to cast Asian actors as they should have been doing from the beginning.
Reeves isn't quite as white as much of his competition-- his father is of both Hawaiian and Chinese descent. And yet, he definitely doesn't fit what are some pretty vocal fan requests to cast an Asian actor in the role. Plus, he's Keanu Reeves-- perfect as the out-of-his-league Neo
Imagine for a moment, if you will, that Hollywood tried to cast Jackie Chan as Superman. There’d be an uproar, and we’d be right to be up roaring. It’s not about the color of his skin, but the fundamental nature of the character. It’s about where he comes from, who he is, what we identify with about him. Why should Akira be any different?