There’s an interesting rumor floating out of this year’s CinemaCon that Warner Bros. has approached Get Out director Jordan Peele to step into the director’s role for the long-awaited live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, which was originally a manga before becoming an anime feature-length film in 1988. Jeff Sneider of The Tracking Board got the scoop and says that the talks between Warner Bros. and Peele have been “…encouraging.”
If this turns out to be the case, it’ll be one helluva jump for Peele! Get Out‘s budget was $4.5 million, but to do something on the level of Akira, I’m guessing at least $100-$125 million will have to be set aside. The scope of the story and the vast amount of CGI work that will be required is undeniable.
What makes this story so interesting is that it comes during a time when casting decisions are looked at with microscopic intensity. Ghost in the Shell is still dealing with cries of “whitewashing,” and Adam Wingard’s Death Note is receiving the same complaints. Considering that Akira is a very Japanese story in many regards, it’ll be fascinating to see how the film gets cast, regardless if Peele is director or not.
Warner Bros. has been trying to make an Akira adaptation happen for at nearly 15 years. At one point, Leonardo DiCaprio was attached as well as Justin Lin. There were even rumors that the film would be a two-part event, based respectively on the events in Books 1-3 of the manga volumes and Books 4-6.
As a fan of the series and having read the manga, I’d be very excited for a live-action adaptation of Akira. That being said, if it’s done solely to make a movie that looks pretty, count me out. The story of Akira is a deep and philosophical one, a story that needs to be handled with respect and attention. Anything less will result in a wasted opportunity.