AICN Anime has news about Live Action Akira by The Hughes Brothers.
New York's Vulture blog has learned that Warner Bros. to sign the Hughes brothers (From Hell, Dead Presidents, Menace II Society) to direct a live-action remake of the cult favorite Akira, from a script by Iron Man scribes Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby.
Ten to one Les Freres Hughes were signed on based on The Book of Eli. Let's see if a movie actually comes from this deal.
The same article has a poster — and an awesome-looking one, too — for the live-action Space Battleship Yamato film.
This whole business about a live-action Akira has started to feel entirely too much like the continued attempts to make a live-action Dune. Jodorowsky, David Lynch, and John Harrison each had their way with the material, resulting in two attempts that failed and succeeded in entirely different ways and one non-attempt that has gained mythic status as the Greatest SF Movie Never Made.
Akira's becoming a lot like that: it's more interesting as an idea at this point than as a completed project. For decades now, people have been lining up to throw themselves at the project only to go splat against it. The lucky director who manages to do that and make a good movie out of it gets a hell of a nerd-cred feather to stick into his cap ... and the studio that backed it might get to make some decent bank, too. Heck, we're getting to the point now where some of the people calling the shots in those places might well have copies of Akira on their own shelves at home, but that doesn't mean they're automatically going to spend $175-$250 million on it.
My biggest reason for being hesitant about a Western live-action remake of Akira is simple: it's a story that is deeply bound up in its setting. Inextricably so. You cannot move a story like this to, say, Manhattan (as was the premise in one of the more recent versions of the script) and also port over all the subtext that made the story what it is. Granted, most of the non-fans may never know the difference, but it's exactly the kind of misstep that causes projects like this to break from the inside and become mere curiosities instead of breakout/crossover hits. Non-fans watch it and sense something is missing, but can't put their finger on it — like a cover version of a song where every third measure went missing.
And of course no Western studio is going to throw gobs of money at something that isn't — well, Western. Unless you're talking about a glossy period-piece soap opera like Memoirs of a Geisha or The Last Samurai, both of which had at least some degree of built-in U.S.-based box-office star appeal or name recognition. Or unless it's Blood: The Last Vampire, which was actually an English-language Hong Kong coproduction and didn't cost very much to begin with.
If we're going to have live-action anime, the least we could do is start with stories where the venue isn't Japan in the first place. It's not like we have any shortage of such things: Claymore, Vampire Hunter D (which I hear is actually in progress now), Black Lagoon, Monster, Detroit Metal City (why not?). Even Guin Saga or Berserk, as long as you don't care about making back a dime of your $200+M investment ... although I'd place my poker chips on Guin making back at least some of that money.
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