Warner Bros. has been looking to get a live-action Akira movie into production for years, but it seems like they have no idea how to go about adapting it properly. Back in 2011, Non-Stop director Jaume Collet-Serra was attached to direct it with Garrett Hedlund taking on the role of Kaneda. The movie was then put on hold after the studio decided to cut its budget down to only $90 million. Since then the director dropped out of the project, then came back on to try to develop a more scaled down version of the Katsuhiro Otomo 1988 cult classic anime. If there's one thing this movie doesn't need, it's to be scaled down.
For those of you who are curious about the film and the direction they plan on taking it, Collet-Serra recent talked about about it with Comingsoon, saying,
"It's different, because you have to be respectful of the source material. Otomo adapted his own work from a manga into an anime and both things are completely different and genius. The only way to do a live version of "Akira" is to take the spirit and adapt it. It will be as different as the anime was from the manga."
The director is asked about the fans, their worries, and how he will maintain the essence of the things we love about Akira without diluting it into essentially Blade Runner: Mark 2?
"I think you cannot make a movie about "Akira" and hope that everyone understands it. Like everything else, you have to make three or four movies in one where there's the essence somewhere. If you're a fan, you already know what it's about and you'll see it's part of the same world, but trying to oversimplify it would be a mistake. I think if at some point a character tries to explain it to the audience at the end of the second act, that's a problem. It's more like an existential opera. It's something that can only be explained in the manga, and even in the anime it's hard to follow."
When asked what he would be bringing to the film that he would specifically make his, the director replied,
"I hope that I can bring strong characters. In the original source material, I don't think the main characters are the protagonists. What I'm hoping is to bring characters."
He expanded on that a little saying,
"Nobody's interesting. Tetsuo's interesting because weird sh*t happens to him, and Kaneda is so two-dimensional. That's part of the Japanese culture, they never have strong characters. They're used as a way to move the other philosophy forward."
That's a very interesting statement. He does make a point, but I don't necessarily agree with it. I think the characters in Akira are extremely interesting. That being said, it would be pretty awesome if he can make them even more interesting. He then concluded the interview by saying,
"Yeah. So hopefully in my version that will be strong, and you'll have a story that happens in that world that will show you a little bit of the mystery. Then, if you're interested, they'll make "Akira 2 & 3" then you can get deeper into it. I love the world, a lot of people love that world, so why wouldn't we indulge in it a little bit and see how it would be if it was real? Like you say I don't have to explain everything, but wouldn't you like to spend two-hours in a world of "Akira" and follow a character and be like, "that's cool"? That's all I want to offer, is two-hours in a world you can actually feel. We're working on it."
As a long time fan of Akira, I'm very curious to see how this live-action turns out. I'll be honest though, I'm not expecting much. There's a lot of room for it to blow my mind if they really want too. It's definitely going to be really interesting to see how it turns out.