Akira Finally Gets the Greenlight. No Really. It’s Official This Time. Scouts Honor.

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Akira MangaAccording to the trades (this time Variety), Warner Bros. has given the official greenlight to a live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s “Akira” for domestic consumption, with the start of production set for as early as late February or early March. Which, if you’ve been keeping track of the project’s progress, is a major leap forward in terms of actually coming to fruition.

There are, of course, some potential worries (this wouldn’t be “Akira” without them, right?), including the budget, which Warner Bros. has settled on somewhere in the $90 million dollar range. This … is pretty low for a film like “Akira”, which, if they even stick to the source material a little bit, would require the destruction of a futuristic city, not to mention a hell of a lot of “Matrix”-like action scenes for the finale. The trailer for the original anime below should give you a good idea of the film’s crazy action-packed Third Act.

Garrett Hedlund in Tron: Legacy (2000) Movie ImageIn any case, with a budget and a greenlight in its pocket, the film will now move into the pre-production stage with “Unknown’s” Jaume Collet-Serra directing (replacing Albert Hughes, who had been in place for a while before eventually dropping out). As for the casting of the film’s two main characters, “Tron: Legacy’s” Garrett Hedlund is the undisputed frontrunner for one of the roles, though an offer hasn’t gone out yet, but is expected to be delivered very soon. As you’ll recall, Keanu Reeves was a wanted man. Unfortunately he didn’t want the movie back. Well, if nothing else, Garrett Hedlund’s certainly got the bodysuit tights/motorcycle look down (right).

Which means, yes, Kaneda and Tetsuo will probably both be white. That is, if they even keep the Japanese names, since they’re already transplanting the setting form “Neo Tokyo” to “New Manhattan” anyway, why even bother keeping the names and pissing off the fanbase of the original even further? Of course, pissing off the fanbase has never really been something the studio has cared about in the past, so I suppose they’re probably not going to start now.

Leonardo DiCaprio will produce the film along with Otomo, though how much input he’ll have on the Americanization of his work remains open to debate. Usually when Hollywood buys a foreign property for a remake, they’ll usually keep the original creators on as a producer, if just to help sell the film and quell any fears from the diehards.

Author: Nix

Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.
  • what a joke

    What a bunch of crap, i don’t want to see a white-washed Akira.

  • http://www.mr-hart.prog.fr/ Hart

    No, they’re not gonna keep the original names. Tetsuo will be Travis. Yeah, Travis. And he’ll be Kaneda’s brother. Yes, they’re making a film that is not Akira.

    Oh and it’s possible that Akira will constantly sing “Frère Jacques”, because, you know, the only way U.S. people can represent a creepy little kid is him singing a lullaby in a weird fashion.

  • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

    I keep saying this one is possible, but very difficult. Though the story is initially set in Japan in the anime, I still think it’s possible because it’s not entirely tied down to Japanese culture. My pitch, again has the world under an American/Japanese conglomerate. Society like in the “Firefly/Serenity” universe is a mixed cultural pot, where America and Japanese are on top. In this way the Akira sotry would stay very close to the original, but with some changes. Asian American versions of Tetsuo and Kaneda, some other characters may be of different races like the rest of the gang memebers. The main military officer could even be black in this situation. The whole Akira fiasco happens in New York (with Japan not wanting to risk any possible environmental repercussions or destruction), and the setting is now Neo York (or hell keep Neo Tokyo further showing the cross cultural world).

  • Dubs

    This can’t be done for less than double that amount. 90 million for that little money they can’t do the story and psychic powers justice. No way.

    2x 150 million and this could be the blockbuster double bill for 2013 and 2014 but this is peanuts for a story as big as Akira.

    This will turn out to be something along the lines of i am number four. My crystal ball tells me so :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=114700493 Dominique Hatcher

      You obviously haven’t seen DISTRICT 9 ($30 million budget) or watched the trailer for that new superpower movie CHRONICLE (not sure of the budget, but I’m sure it’s nowhere near $90 million and the effects look AMAZING). AKIRA doesn’t need a $200 million dollar budget. Hell, it’s getting three times the budget that DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION got so that should matter some.

      • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

        Apples and oranges. South Korea can make an exact duplicate of “The Matrix” in the year 2011 for $20 million. Hollywood wouldn’t be able to do it for less than $200 million (in 2011). Hollywood excess has to always be accounted for with the budget.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=114700493 Dominique Hatcher

          Maybe in terms of PURE budget you’re absolutely correct. But add in salaries for big stars, name directors, insurance, accomodations, amenities (Kraft food service) and….oh yeah, the U.S. $1 is doing horrible right now, and that’s why Hollywood won’t do movies that cheap. Also, I highly doubt that a $20 million Korean Matrix clone can bring in the kinds of numbers the American one did. Gotta spend money to make money,

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

            You’re mistaking “won’t” with “can’t”. It’s not that they WON’T do a movie that cheap, it’s that they CAN’T. It’s why a Western starring Johnny Depp is going to cost upwards to $200 million for production alone, and $300-$350 by the time the bill is delivered. Thus, Hollywood excess.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=114700493 Dominique Hatcher

            But isn’t that what makes Hollywood…..Hollywood? I mean, for all the excesses and all-around corporate douchebaggery, where would the state of cinematic affairs be without Hollywood? Seriously, can you imagine IFC Films EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME? I’m pretty sure suicide in movie theaters would be at an all time high…….

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BAWI3CAZXQYHWMGODX6ETHBPSY Jive

    Remember what happened with Dragonball Evolution? ‘Nuff said.

  • Juan Solo

    Ditto with Dubs & Jive. Be that as it may, this type of “change” may seem to be benign however, it has had negative effects within the social structure & cultures of present society. What many of you fail to comprehend is that it reinforces existing stereotypes and prejudices while creating new ones often sublimenally perpetuated through western mass media. Simply, it’s neo blackfacing.

    What has transpired within the last few decades is the psychological conditioning of non western people (the majority being people of ethnicity) to accept what is to be defined as beautiful, unattractive, intelligent, ignorant, successful, poor, powerful, pure, good and/or evil etc. in the “one for self” rat race of over abundance & materialism in the over competitive wealthy ruling society. An example of this is the increasing number of Asian people who submit themselves to cosmetic eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty) in order to appear as either less Asian not Asian at all.

    Within the last decade we have seen western films deviate from the source material to include characters as African American, Latino etc. who were originally Caucasian. However, these films are in the minority. The world is changing, politically and socially and like comic books many films are a reflection of the past & present socioeconomic issues of our world. Ethnic people have made more gains in this assumed democratically ruled free world. Access to information technology, and luxuries has increased, although not enough because the majority of people in this world are poor. However, In order to keep up with that pace & compete with a growing independent non western market and guarantee revenue this change within Hollywood ruled film industry is a necessity.

    To consistently change characters, locations, plots & subplots, etc to appeal to a “new” audience IS nothing short of neo blackfacing & whitewashing. In my opinion, it’s Hollywood’s way of saying to the world, ” &^%$ you. Your film isn’t good enough so we upgraded it to OUR standards. NOW, it’s worthy & just.”

    My apologies for ranting. I’ll step off my soap box now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=114700493 Dominique Hatcher

    Kaante (2002; remake of RESERVOIR DOGS)
    Chocolate: Deep Dark Secrets (2005; Bollywood remake of THE USUAL SUSPECTS)
    Ghajini (2005; Bollywood remake of MEMENTO)
    Zinda (2006; Bollywood remake of OLDBOY)
    A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop (2009; Chinese remake of BLOOD SIMPLE)
    Saidoweizu (2009; Japanese remake of SIDEWAYS)

    Funny how you never see anybody up in arms ready to declare war on Asia for remaking OUR films and changing all the ethnicities!!! But as soon as an American movie studio does it, they’re the devil. Please. I don’t care how cool and 100% faithful to the original you make an AKIRA live action film, the fact remains that a movie featuring an all Asian cast and chocked full of Asian cultural references, WILL.NOT.BE.SUCCESSFUL….at least, not successful enough to warrant anything above a $10-$20 million budget. I’m sorry for all of you “purists” out there, but it just can’t be done. Maybe YOU will go see it, but movie companies have to make a profit. I mean, you guys want them to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make a movie for the minority of fans and expect them to….not make a profit? Sorry, time to wake up folks.

    • Wintersouljah

      Apparently I have been blocked from commenting on this site. I wonder why?????

      @ Dom – Can you provide the amount of revenue the Asian carbon copies of American movies produce/spend against the consistent amount of American carbon copies of Asian movies and anime, and games? I believe you are missing the main point. American/Western mass media make and control the standards in which the rest of the world follows. Again because western mass media is controled by the world’s wealthy ruling system it instigates prejudice, bias, & unecessary competition not only in mass media in other countries but society throughout the world..

      JUAN SOLO