The fall of our economy has been hard on everyone, including Hollywood, California, that magical place where even the litter is diamond-encrusted. It’s hard to believe, but big-budget studios have taken a pretty noticeable hit in recent years, and revenue continues to fall each year. It always helps to look for the good in bad situations and that’s just what this story is all about.
It looks like Warner Bros. has hit the brakes on Jaume Collet-Serra‘s upcoming adaptation of Akira while they make one last negotiation to work out the on-going budgetary and casting issues that have been plaguing production from the start. The Hollywood Reporter says that a call has been made requesting that the entire crew and production crew drop everything they’re working on until further notice. As one insider put it, “everyone has been sent home.”
This would be great news for Akira fans like myself. I’ve made it pretty clear that I’m not a fan of the way the remake was going. Besides some questionable casting decisions and storyline changes, Akira just doesn’t seem like it’s doable in live-action; anime, as you probably know, can go to some pretty wild places from time to time and Akira‘s subject matter requires an extensively realized cyber-punk world. I imagine lowering the budget would make this challenge even more difficult.
A quick addendum to yesterday’s casting update for Warner Brothers’ remake of Akira: I’ve got my morning coffee, meaning I’m not nearly as bitter as I was yesterday. Oh and also, Superhero Hype has word that Gary Oldman has officially passed on the part of Colonel Shikishima, and Ken Watanabe (Inception) is their next choice for the character.
Watanabe is quickly becoming a recognizable face for his role in big movies like Christopher Nolan’s Inception and Batman Begins, but he’s had equal success in Japanese cinema. He’s a talented guy and would likely handle a complex role like ‘The Colonel’ pretty well, not to mention he’d be lending some much needed credibility to the rest of the young and fairly untested cast. With Oldman out, there’s not much star power left to carry the picture.
That said though, Garret Hedlund is still the only actor locked down as of yet. We’ll keep you updated on all the Akira news as it develops.
Sigh. Gamma Squad‘s got the latest on casting for Warner Bros.’s Akira project and boy oh boy, there’s no getting away from how bad an idea this movie is. To recap, Garret Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) is still the probable choice for the role of Kaneda, Helena Bonham-Carter and Gary Oldman (both from Harry Potter) have been offered roles as Lady Miyako and Colonel Shikishima, and Kristen Stewart (Twilight) has been offered the role of Kei, who you can expect will have her character thrillingly revitalized as a bored white girl with no discernible personality.
Here’s some more exciting news, if you think ‘exciting’ means crapping on things that exist: Kaneda and Tetsuo are now brothers! Betcha didn’t see that coming. Now this conflicted relationship between old friends decaying into resentment and hate is replaced with…sibling rivalry, I guess? Cool?
Speaking of Tetsuo, Warner Bros. is now screen-testing 8 actors for the role of the best-friend-turned-psychic-monster, though none of the listed actors look to me like they can pull off being in a cyber-punk biker gang:
I suppose of all of the candidates, the only actors I’m familiar with are Richard Madden, Paul Dano and Michael Pitt. I really enjoy Game of Thrones and am a fan of Paul Dano, however, so I think by default my go-to is Michael Pitt. He’s great on Boardwalk Empire, but I don’t have a vested interest in it, so I don’t mind seeing him tarnished by this tripe.
To be fair I shouldn’t be this cynical without having seen the finished product, but in my defense, WHAT THE HELL, HOLLYWOOD??
Akira is the latest title to go down the Hollywood remake poop-chute, and about a week ago it was reported that Garrett Hedlund(TRON: Legacy) was at the top of the list for the role of ‘Kaneda’. While rumors of Hedlund playing the gang leader and sweet motorcycle-owner remain pretty thin, Gamma Squad reports roles have been offered to former Harry Potter co-stars Gary Oldman and Helena Bonham-Carter.
Oldman would play ‘Colonel Shikishima’, the man in charge of tracking down the not-yet cast Tetsuo, and Bonham-Carter would take on the character of ‘Lady Miyako’, “a high priestess and former test subject of a secret government project led by the Colonel,” who as far as I can remember was not originally a part of the Anime film. It’s difficult to say how the new Akira will turn out; the original movie is a cult classic, and it was one of the very first Anime films I ever saw. Suffice it to say, I was too young and new to the genre to get most of it, but from what I remember it’s a very complex, very cool and visually impressive sci-fi story set in future Japan.
How director Jaume Collet-Sera will translate that to an Americanized Hollywood picture remains to be seen, but just having Commissioner Jim Gor…uh, Gary Oldman attached would get me on their side.
I’m just going to come out and say it: will everyone involved in this project please just pack it up and walk away from the whole thing? From the inability to cast two lead roles even from the likes of Keanu Reeves to the switching of directors, now there is the announcement of a budget cut of about 50 million bucks. Not that budgets make a movie, but with all of the problems combined this project is heading for nothing but trouble if it ever indeed gets off the ground.
Here’s the latest from IGN:
Variety has the report, adding that the project has been reconfigured as a $90 million tent pole. That’s down quite a bit from the previously reported $140 million budget.
But that’s part of why Collet-Serra has been brought in, as he apparently has a reputation for turning in money-makers on tight budgets (see also his House of Wax remake and the recent Liam Neeson thriller Unknown).
As for Collet-Serra being the new director, I didn’t mind Orphan and House of Wax, but I have yet to see Unknown. This movie would definitely be his big break after Unknown, but quite frankly I wouldn’t care if they cast this movie into the destroying hands of Uwe Boll. As I discussed with a colleague the other day, I think Akira might be better as a CG movie instead of animated. And at the rate the live-action movie is going that may be coming true sooner than we think.
As for Akira, the intention of the studio is to keep the picture on a fast track, which means they will find a director quickly. The studio has been wrestling with the approach on the film for the past year. Last March, Warner Bros put together a short list of up-and-coming actors after getting a strong rewrite by Steve Kloves that set the film in a rebuilt New Manhattan, where a leader of a biker gang saves his friend from a medical experiment. At the time, Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy were given the script for the role of Tetsuo, and Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix were courted for Kaneda. The two leads were expected to come from that group of actors. Then, the studio had a change of heart and, given the budget, wanted to have an established box office star in the movie. That led to a flirtation with Keanu Reeves that ended recently.
Warner Bros is back to the other plan, and will likely go back to that list of actors in hopes of making the picture later this year or early next.
I hope that when they say “find a director quickly” doesn’t mean they just hand the movie off to any hack with a directing resume’ that may come along. To me this movie could go either way right now, they may produce a total piece of garbage based on quick they are trying to get it moving or it will be an okay movie. I really wish they could have held onto Albert Hughes as a director because he did so well in a futuristic world with Book of Eli. But on the other hand I’m certainly glad they didn’t pick up Keanu because that would have been a catastrophe, especially when they have a pretty good group of young talent to choose from to fill both the Tetsuo and Kaneda roles.
I wasn’t thrilled with the way things were shaping up with the Akira movie before, but I’m of the mind set that if they’re going to make it then they at least need to not make a total joke of the story that it is derived from. And also if everything falls through and it ends up going back into development hell or not being made at all you won’t see me shedding a tear.
So let’s hear it in the comment section below from all you Keanu lovers about how he would have made the best Kaneda ever!
In a huge vomit inducing report, Keanu Reeves is in talks with the studio bringing us Akira to play one of the main characters. I wasn’t crazy about the front runners to play Kaneda and Tetsuo before, but Keanu Reeves? And now it takes place in Neo Manhattan instead of Neo Tokyo? Jeez, why not just call his character Kevin and call the movie a U.S. equivalent of Akira? Adam perhaps, or Alex. Why does it need to have anything to do with Akira when it’s the complete opposite of everything but the plot. And I’m willing to bet that the plot will be warped somehow too.
It appears time for the Akira live action movie to be moving ahead, with SuperHero Hype’s report of the front-runners for the two main characters; Kaneda and Tetsuo. The villain of the story is Tetsuo, a young man with a big chip on his shoulder who begins to manifest immense psychic powers, and then use them with extreme prejudice. This guy was a total psycho in the animated movie and equally so in the graphic novels that movie was based on. He was a part of the same biker gang as his friend and rival of sorts, Kaneda. Kaneda is a bit of a jackass, but he’s a loveable jackass and the closest thing we get to a hero.
That being said let’s have a look at the contenders for the role of Tetsuo. It’s between Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy. Right off the bat I need to discount McAvoy because he seems a little too old for the role. If they’re following the story of the graphic novel, the two characters are teenagers and McAvoy is about to hit 32 in a month.
Maybe they’re going a different direction with the characters’ ages, but if not I don’t see a 32-year-old guy playing a kid still in a “home for boys”. This leaves Pattinson and Garfield. I think either one of them could pull it off, but it would be more refreshing to see Garfield in the role than having the Twilight star Pattinson thrown in our faces once again. If you can’t tell I’m a little burned out on Twilight.
On the Kaneda side of things we have a few more options. Up for the role are Garret Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake, and Joaquin Phoenix. I’m going to immediately discount Phoenix because of his age, and the fact that his moronic shenanigans over the past two years made me care less and less about him ever being in another movie. Fassbender, like McAvoy, is too old though it would be interesting to see them both in the roles of hero and villain this time in reverse. In case you haven’t heard Fassbender and McAvoy are both in X-men: First Class this year, starring as Magneto and Charles Xavier respectively.
Justin Timberlake: No. That’s all I can say about that one.
The role of Kaneda for me boils down to either Garrett Hedlund or Chris Pine.
They both have experience playing the troublesome, act without thinking young gun type. Pine’s James T. Kirk persona from the excellent Star Trek reboot is almost exactly how Kaneda acts in the Akira animated movie and graphic novel; overconfident, quick thinking and totally unable to impress the girl with his bravado. Garrett Hedlund played the mischievous young motorcyclist in the recent Tron: Legacy, and the light cycle he tore it up on definitely had a likeness to the bike Kaneda rides in Akira.
What other credentials do ya need? I really enjoy both actors and would be happy with either one, but I tend to lean toward Chris Pine on this one. He has the sort of charisma and humor needed to play Kaneda. And he rode a motorcycle in Star Trek and that’s the most important thing… right?
In case you didn’t notice, none of the actors are Asian like their character’s namesakes, but I’m trying to look past that. I’ll be satisfied as long as they yell one and others name as they try to kill each other. (Watch the Akira animated movie for more on that.)
I hope this movie is done right, because being based off of the six graphic novels it’s going to need at least two or three movies to do the story justice. I’d recommend the Akira animated movie and graphic novels to anyone who is a fan of sci-fi or cyber punk stories. The graphic novels are definitely better than the movie, but it’s still quite a ride either way.