For sometime now the rumor mills have been churning out info on the live action adaption of Akira. Everyone from Joseph Gordon Levitt, Keanu Reeves, to Justin Timberlake, at one point were considered as possible stars in the film. That’s just a few of the names that have been thrown at this film as possible stars, not even getting into the various directors, and producers who have been involved (or supposedly involved) with this project. All the name drops and possible involvements aside, this is clearly a project a good many people want to see happen. I’m hesitant to even be remotely excited when a new manga/anime live action adaptions is announced, like video games to film, the genre has not seen a single success. Though I think there is always hope, the comic book to film genre only saw its first popular and well done adaptions in the past decade. A good amount of complete crap came before we got films like The Dark Knight, the first Spiderman film, and a good many others, sure you could say The Crow was out long ago, but how many other examples of good comic to film adaptions can you think of? My point here is both of the afore-mentioned genres still have the ability to be both successful critically and financially.
So now we have some news on Akira’s adaption. It’s being reported that Warner Brothers has given the green light to Katsuhiro Otomo’s masterpiece. Variety reports that Jaume Collet-Serra (director of Unknown) is attached to helm the project with a budget of 90 million, and this project needs a decent budget. I really can’t say if having Collet-Serra as the director will serve the project well, since the only film of his I know is so vastly different from the cyberpunk world of Akira, I mean Unknown is a decent film and visually it’s great, but can he translate the world of Akira into film is a big question. Supposedly Warner and Collet-Serra are looking at Eric Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) to be one of the two main characters, which could prove fine assuming the changes being made to the plot hold up as well as the original did. All we know on that end is that the film will take place in Manhattan instead of Tokyo, which isn’t exactly a bad thing if they translate the rest of the story well enough without losing the soul of the original material. Warner Brothers and Collet-Serra are walking a fine line with this “Americanization” of Akira, let’s hope they can pull it off. One aspect of all this that shines as a good omen is Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company Appie Way are involved with DiCaprio producing. Now we may not all be fans of DiCaprio’s stuff, but I have no problem saying that almost everything he has been attached to as an actor or otherwise has been quality and that’s even more true in recent years.
I don’t know about you, but I would be damned happy to see Akira be the first solid manga adaption to come out of Hollywood. It certainly would bode well for future projects, Cowboy Bebop, and Ghost In The Shell anyone?
What are your thoughts on all this, and do you think this project is going to be another travesty like Dragon Ball Z, or maybe be the first great live action anime?