Details About The Live-Action Akira Remake Finally Revealed

Details About The Live-Action Akira Remake Finally Revealed

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Hollywood has been plotting a remake of Katsuhiro
Otomo’s Akira for almost two decades. The project has a complicated and somewhat
controversial history, but Leonardo DiCaprio remains attached as producer, and he seems
determined to make the live-action Akira a reality. We’ve got all the details right here. When Akira dropped in 1988, bootleg copies
spread across U.S. campuses like wildfire. Leonardo DiCaprio was a teenager when Akira
hit the States, and it clearly made a big impression on him. The Oscar winner has been a big fan of anime
for years now, Akira in particular. His production company Appian Way got involved
with the Warner Bros.-led remake back in 2008, and the first thing DiCaprio did was put the
fans at ease. He told MTV: “I’m a big fan of Japanese anime. […] I know there’s a lot of loyal fans out
there of the project and die-hard fans, so we’re going to try to do the best job we possibly
can and we’re not going to make the movie until the script is in the right shape.” After Earth writer Gary Whitta was the man
tasked with penning the screenplay. According to Whitta, an Akira trilogy was
being quietly planned, but the first installment faltered. Director Ruairi Robinson, best known for 2013
sci-fi The Last Days on Mars, later revealed that producers put the project on the back-burner
for financial reasons. He said: “They couldn’t get the budget under 200 million
bucks for that draft, which was a bit rich for what was proposed as an R-rated movie
with no stars.” Warner Bros. had Robinson put together a sizzle
reel, and the Irish filmmaker even shot some test footage for the film, recreating some
iconic Akira shots. Akira takes place three decades after Tokyo
is leveled by a devastating explosion. The mega city that springs up in the aftermath
is Neo-Tokyo, home to the young biker gang that the story revolves around. When one of the boys develops powerful psychokinetic
abilities, the city faces destruction all over again. It’s a big-budget story, which is probably
why DiCaprio and his partners at Warner Bros. decided to film the whole movie in California. Making Akira totally in-state means it qualifies
for an 18.5 million dollar tax credit allocation, Warner Bros. confirmed. The studio told Deadline: “We are thrilled with the opportunity to
shoot Akira in California. The availability of top-notch crew members,
plus the wide variety of location choices and predictable weather are second to none.” Needless to say, fans of the original are
deeply concerned about this move. The setting and aesthetic of Akira are central
to its appeal, and recreating this in the Golden State won’t be easy. Taika Waititi was attached to the Akira remake
before his first Marvel movie made him a household name in Hollywood. The New Zealander opened up about his plans
for Akira while promoting 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, revealing that he intends to take inspiration
from Otomo’s original manga, not the anime. Waititi told The Hollywood Reporter: “Who wants to see a shot-for-shot remake of
the film? Nobody. Also, you have to make it entertaining. I think it’s really dangerous to make these
films very serious cyber punk. There was a time and place for that and there
may be a time and place for that tone again, but you have to make fresh takes on things.” Waititi is reportedly co-writing the movie
with Always Be My Maybe scribe, Michael Golamco. When Dazed caught up with Waititi in 2018,
he revealed that the script was still in the early stages of development. He said: “I haven’t really started to get my head around
it yet. There are six gigantic books to go through. It’s so rich. But Akira is one of my favorite films; my
mum took me to see it when I was 13 and it changed my life.” Filming the movie in the States is one thing,
but setting it there is another entirely. In April 2019, Production Weekly shared what
appeared to be the first synopsis for DiCaprio and Waititi’s Akira, and it made some pretty
grim reading for fans of the source material. There were a ton of fundamental changes, including
moving the action from Neo-Tokyo to Neo-Manhattan. The synopsis read: “When a young man’s telekinesis is discovered
by the military, he is taken in to be turned into a super weapon and his brother [must]
race to save him before Manhattan is destroyed by his powers. Kaneda is a bar owner in Neo-Manhattan who
is stunned when his brother Tetsuo is abducted by Government agents.” Films like John Wick prove that Manhattan
offers the perfect palette for this kind of story, and some fans may have been willing
to get on board with this had it been the only change. In Otomo’s story, teenagers Kaneda and Tetsuo
are long-time friends, not brothers. The fact that Kaneda now owns a bar suggests
that he and Tetsuo will be aged up for the movie, but according to another industry website,
this won’t be the case. Backstage has since released what appears
to be a casting call for Akira, and it reveals that producers are looking for age appropriate
actors to play Tetsuo and Kaneda, who will be 17- and 18-years-old in the movie. The whole Neo-Manhattan idea actually dates
back to when Warner Bros. first negotiated a deal for Akira in 2002. Blade director Stephen Norrington was hired,
but concerns about his involvement were raised after he told The Hollywood Reporter that
he planned to make the story, quote, “more accessible,” presumably to western audiences. When Norrington departed the project, the
studio turned to Ruairi Robinson and Gary Whitta, who tried to remain faithful to the
source material on a technicality. In their version of Akira, Manhattan had been
sold and was legally foreign territory, owned and populated by the Japanese. Does this mean the leads would have been Japanese? Probably not. Whitta told Collider: “It wasn’t New Tokyo, but there were Americans
who kind of lived in little Americanized quarters of it. I felt it was a way to do a kind of cool Western-Eastern
fusion of the two ideas — not fully Japanese, not fully westernized.” In other words, he dug the cool bikes and
the whole cyberpunk thing, but he wanted a Hollywood star to lead the charge. Keanu Reeves once came very close to playing
the part of Kaneda in the live action Akira movie. When the Robinson-Whitta version fell through,
Warner Bros. hired Book of Eli co-director Albert Hughes and Harry Potter screenwriter
Steve Kloves. Reeves became their target, but despite some
constructive talks, the Matrix star ultimately decided to pass. It was a huge blow for the project – Warner
Bros. reportedly shut down Akira’s pre-viz department and sent most of the staff it had
working on the film home. It turns out Reeves wasn’t the first actor
the studio contacted about the role of Kaneda. Warner Bros. reportedly reached out to Garrett
Hedlund, Chris Pine, Michael Fassbender, Joaquin Phoenix and even Justin Timberlake, while
Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy were said to be in contention for the
role of Tetsuo. When fans discovered that a version of Akira
starring Justin Timberlake was a very real possibility, they lashed out. One person who was particularly vocal about
the all-white shortlist of actors was George Takei. The Star Trek legend predicted that Warner
Bros. would have a huge bomb on its hands if it whitewashed Akira. He told The Advocate: “If they’re going to do that, why don’t they
do something original, because what they do is offend Asians. […] The tradition in Hollywood has always
been to buy a project, change it completely and flop with it. I think it’s pointless, so I thought I would
save Warner Bros. a bit of failure by warning them of what will most likely happen if they
continue in that vein.” This is exactly what happened to Paramount
after it cast Scarlett Johansson as The Major in its remake of ‘90s anime classic, Ghost
in the Shell. The studio ultimately admitted that the whitewashing
backlash badly hurt the movie, which was a critical and commercial failure. It seems like Warner Bros. is heeding the
signs – a casting call put out by the studio appeared to confirm that it was looking for
Asian actors for the lead roles. Run A ll Night director Jaume Collet-Serra
replaced Albert Hughes in 2011, but it wasn’t long before he hit a brick wall. He was already working with a reduced budget
of 90 million dollars, and sources suggested that Warner Bros. wanted to drop that figure
again, aiming to spend as little as 60 million on Akira. In 2014, Collet-Serra confirmed that he was
still trying to get a scaled-down version made. Unfortunately, the Spanish director also made
some incredibly ill-advised comments about Otomo’s story. He told Coming Soon: “Nobody’s interesting. Tetsuo’s interesting because weird s— 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.” Unsurprisingly, Collet-Serra soon found himself
out of the picture. Jordan Peele was linked to Akira not long
after his Oscar-winning directorial debut Get Out premiered, though he quickly decided
that taking charge of a Hollywood remake wasn’t for him. The actor and filmmaker told horror website
The 13th Floor that he was capable of directing the new Akira, he just didn’t want to. Peele said: “Akira is one of my favorite movies, and I
think obviously the story justifies as big a budget as you can possibly dream of. But the real question for me is: Do I want
to do pre-existing material, or do I want to do original content? At the end of the day, I want to do original
stuff.” Peele’s rejection came on the back of George
Miller declaring himself out. The Australian director was asked about Akira
after 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road became a roaring success, but he couldn’t fit it
into his busy schedule. He told Yahoo: “There was talk of [Akira]. But I’ve got so many things on my dance
card, I don’t have the time to do everything.” In May 2019, Akira fans got some much-needed
good news regarding the long-gestating live-action adaptation — Warner Bros. had finally set
a release date. Taika Waititi’s film was going to hit cineplexes
on May 21, 2021, the studio confirmed, but another huge development was just around the
corner. In July 2019, news that Waititi had agreed
a deal to helm another Thor movie broke. It was great news for Marvel fans, but it
was a cruel blow for those who have been waiting patiently for Akira. The proposed schedule for Thor: Love & Thunder
clashed with that of Akira, and the latter film was put on hold indefinitely as a result. Waititi remains attached, but Akira is now
back in limbo, and the headache continues. Any new version of Akira still has to go through
Katsuhiro Otomo. When the Japanese artist, writer and director
sat down with Forbes in 2017, he revealed that he was, quote, “basically done” with
Akira, having finished his original manga and helmed his very own anime version. Otomo confirmed that he’s happy for a new
filmmaker to take Akira in a different direction, so long as he gets final approval. He said: “I accepted the offer for a live-action Akira
to be made, so I am generally okay with whatever they want to do with it. However, I did give one major condition to
a live-action version and that is that I had to check and approve the scenario. As always, the fundamental question on adapting
anything is whether you follow the host work strictly or do something new with it.” Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite
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100 thoughts on “Details About The Live-Action Akira Remake Finally Revealed”

  1. I actually saw Akira on the big screen in Toronto in November of '90. There were 2 theaters playing it, but by the time we got to the first one, they'd already pulled it, so we booked to the next one, & caught the last showing!
    BTW, my hopes really aren't very high for this project. I'm thinking Alita: Battle Angel will be a lone phenomenon…

  2. Hollywood has long run out of ideas hence all the remakes, rehash & really effing up in the process. When they've rinsed this all out, I imagine the next phase might consist of reworkings of Citizen Kane and old Hitchcock films as the copyright should've expired thus increasing profit margin

  3. This is all over the place

    I heard Japanese fans responded in a positive way to the ghost in the shell remake. I mean, the major is originally drawn with huge eyes so the "whitewashing" wasn't that bad in that movie at all.

  4. Cheers on Peel for not wanting to do a remake & Otomo for granting (more or less) free reign to a live interpretation, but in the long run my opinion still says just leave it alone. If H'wood wants to continue their path of being lazy & not coming up w/ original ideas, at least look to some less known properties to bring to light.

  5. I wonder if any A-listers like Evangelion enough to push for a fucked up live action movie that will be in production hell for 20 years and eventually disappoint. Still bummed out about never getting to see Keanu Reeves as spike in cowboy bebop.

  6. I'd love to see this. Anime fans are fucking annoying and it can sometimes ruin the actual anime. Ghost In The Shell live action was actually amazing.

  7. I honestly don't want this to happen, after ghost in the shell and hell even Avatar the last air bender, all those Indian people LOL🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 one of the most non threatening race's on the planet.

  8. Even if the script has very good ideas… How the f*** can they make a Soundtrack that is right to the film?
    I Mean… Original Akira Suite is one of the best music ever composed and I'm a professional Musician myself with a lot of experience in the 21st century music… O.o

  9. Denis Villeneuve would be a perfect pick for adapting Akira. He came out of nowhere with a sequel to Blade Runner, and now he's doing Dune.

  10. I don't care if you make it in America with American actors, the important is that they look similar to the characters, that means no Justin Timberlake. The city has to also look NEO. I agree it doesn't have to be a shot by shot movie but it needs the same lore.

  11. With cyberpunk having a Resurgence in interest not that it really was gone to the begin with in my opinion, this movie would be perfect and with the new cyberpunk 2077 game coming out

  12. Wait! Why did they all watch Akira anime in theaters when they all were kids and teenagers? Wasn't it supposed to be R- rated?

  13. Let me stop Leo right there. No "hard core anime lover" as he claims to be, no matter the amount of money or power in movie business they have, would consider making an adaptation after so many fails over the years (Alita… almost got away with it and I like it but still). Anime is a way of Japanese entertainment, basically there Hollywood. There are so many anime movies of all types, for kids, adultr, romance comedy. I love it. This is part of the culture. And the westernization is just disrespect.

  14. These damn anime zealot fans. This is a U.S. company. No shit this will take place in America, because the target audience is Americans.

    Japan has done countless live action animes. Go watch their versions of it.

  15. Akira is a masterpiece. Why does it need to be remade at all anyway? If you want to see Akira, watch the fucking movie… it's literally everywhere online. You can see it whenever you want. Unless they think they can make it better (which they can't) they should just leave it the fuck alone. Make something original but inspired by Akira. I'd be cool with that.

  16. Why not ask Johnny Yong Bosch to reprise his role as Kaneda? He's already familiar with the character, and he's half Korean, so it's not really "white washing".

  17. The movie had such amazing animation to begin with, it’s high budget made the whole amazing package with its style and beauty in general. Fuck, so much of the charm is going to be lost with a love action version. It could be beautiful, of course, but aesthetic wise i am very doubtful that it’ll even be close to the animation. And that’s not counting the rest…

  18. Akira needs a 95-99% Japanese cast. I would be okay with one or two whites, and a few other Ethnic characters would be okay, but Tetsuo and Kaneda and Akira need to be Japanese, and the background characters need to be primarily japanese.

  19. Idk man I trust Taika Waititi. He specifically stated he would stay true to the original, and I trust him to do an accurate live action depiction of Akira. If there's anyone who won't white trash it, it's Waititi and I look forward to the remake. At the very least, we also have the fantastic manga adaptation anime that Otomo's working on to look forward to as well! 💕

  20. I want it. I think it probably needs to be at least two movies and should definitely be set in Neo Tokyo… names alone dictate ethnicity but I'm open for say, some Chinese or American heritage… as long as it's not used as a negative. That price is, I collect your effing head. Lol! Maybe Tarentino is interested?

  21. Kaneda and Tetsuo are younger than 17. I think they're like 14 in the original, which adds to the dystopian themes. It's like lord of the flies. Not got high hopes for this : (

  22. People keep bringing up the "whitewashing" of ghost in the shell. Cant say the live action was that we deserved, but it was far from bad, as a hardcore fan of the series i cant say i disliked it. I should also mention that Major was never asian in the original movie, nor implied to be. The backlash this video is mentioning was mainly a trend. Form your own tastes and opinions people.

    Now, Akira is a different story, whitewash that and you got a huge backlash coming

  23. Taika Waititi I'll ruin your mythos in a minute baby. This idiot thinks no one likes cyber punk in 2019? Is that a joke?


  24. Akira is great because it is ANIMATED. I would rather watch an animated sequel than worry constantly about how bad this live action movie is going to be

  25. George Takei absolutely right!! Hollywood always make japanese masterpiece ends up like shit. Altering almost everything we love about the originals.

  26. Neo-Manhattan ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Of course Hollywood has to americanize everything. I hate that country. This is gonna be pure bullshit like every remake they do. Like Ghost in the Shell. I can't stand how they reappropriate world culture. Disgusting.

  27. I wouldn't mind if it got a bit Americanized, although it would be better if they didn't. However, they better not fucking change the story much!

    Akira manga is huge. There is enough material in it for several seasons of TV series. There is extremely slim chance that the Hollywood machine would come up with something better. Americanize it if you absolutely have to, but don't change the story, just adapt it. Akira and Tetsuo are brothers? Kaneda played by 55 years old Keanu Reeves? Get the fuck out of here. Give some young actors a chance.

  28. Okay, listen up.

    If anyone is dumb enough to try to remake Akira at ALL, now that Otomo himself has already stated he is releasing Akira as a more-expansive episodic animated series based on the sprawling manga comic, it's on them. Watch the Los Angeles Anime Expo video on my channel, I was four rows back from the stage when Katsuhiro Otomo made the rare appearance and announcements on July 4th.

  29. fuking white ppl, they are a curse on humanity and culture. show them something cool and they just wanna shit all over it

  30. This is highly disrespectful cant Hollywood come up with anything original. They are white washing a great movie. I hope the movie makes no money.

  31. White middle aged conservative here. I hope they don't do this. I love the original film. This would ruin it. Unless maybe if they do it in Japan.

  32. Never cared that much for Akira. It has nice fluid animations, but I never really cared for the story! So why not a remake!?!

  33. It’s not a remake, it’s a live action adaptation. Still would be a great challenge to see how they execute such an idea

  34. I want a shot for shot remake, fans are going to go to a modern cyberpunk film, are we going to ignore Blade Runner 2049??

  35. There shouldn't be a live action Akira movie at all. It's not going to be able to live up to the source material at all. They will botch it and waste so much money. When will they learn

  36. Descent thing for HW to do to is:
    1. Don't remake live action Akira.
    2. If they must, borrow the story line but don't use Akira in the title at all unless characters are true to the original.

  37. Hmm. Unfortunately you cannot recreate a setting such as this…especially at this scope. Perhaps not yet but we technically don't need it, the movie is such a masterpiece in itself. The whole point of AKIRA was the fact that it was an animation at all. 🙁

  38. Hard pass on this. We have the anime and the manga with their amazing art, which for me has always been the main appeal. If you own an amazing painting, why would you settle for a poorly- rendered photograph of the same subject matter? They're gonna do it, 'cause enough people will see it to generate an acceptable profit margin, so I'll just stay away and appreciate the original.

  39. they need to attached the people who made the newer blade runner onto this. Neo Tokyo was cyber punk. The entire feel of akira was cyber punk.

  40. Making a live action Akira set in NeoTokyo where everyone speaks English. Wtf. Did anyone think the English dubs were good? No, just no, no.

  41. Hollywood is creatively bankrupt. This is not the time to think of remaking a classic with so much toxic political agenda points being instilled in movies!

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