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Revealed Storyboards From The Hughes Brothers' 'Akira' Show Reverence To Source Material

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by Tambay A. Obenson
September 14, 2012 10:38 AM
2 Comments
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Akira

Not that it matters much anymore, since they're no longer attached to helm the movie. But it's Friday, which means slow news day. So here's a look at what could've been... 

First, a quick recap... 

It was in 2010 when it was first revealed that the Hughes brothers had been tapped by Warner Bros to helm (Albert directing) a live-action remaking of the cult classic AkiraKatsuhiro Otomo’s expansive graphic novel.

About a year later, in early 2011, it looked like the project was starting to come together rapidly after WB hired the screenwriter of 7 of the 8 Harry Potter films, as well as Wonder Boys (Steve Kloves is his name) to "polish up" the screenplay for the Hughes Brothers adaptation.

Principal photography was scheduled to being in August 2011; the script was said to have been sent out to a short list of actors the studio and director/producer wanted for the two leads; and who were they? For the role of Tetsuo, Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy had been given the script; and for the role of Kaneda, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix were all said to be in the running!

Obviously, none of those actors is Japanese, which obviously led to some blowback, after the heavy fallout over casting for The Last Airbender

Warner wanted to make 2 films out of Otomo's tome (makes sense, Akira is quite an intense, complex maze – a 2,182-page graphic novel that can’t be fully realized in 1 single studio film); and the Hughes Brothers were required to deliver a PG13 film (which didn't make a lot of sense; anyone who’s read the source material, or watched Otomo’s Akira anime, will understand). But the Hughes bros weren't keen on 2 films.

And then in May of 2011, it was revealed that the Hughes brothers had left the project due to "an amicable creative differences parting of the way. "

So where's the project now? In limbo. 

But for a glimpse at what a Hughes Bros Akira may have looked like, the folks at BD unearthed the following unused storyboards that were drawn for the Hughes Bros Akira, by illustrator Chris Weston, who shared them on his website, along with the following quote: "Hopefully they reveal just how much love we had for the source material and how faithful we were going to be to it.” 

And if you've read Otomo's manga, or seen his 1988 anime, you'll likely recognize some of these shots:

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2 Comments

  • Donella | September 17, 2012 5:20 PMReply

    The resistance to casting Asian actors in roles written for Asians is bizarre. Having said that, hopefully the Hughes brothers will find other graphic novel based projects in development to work with. There're so many. Side note: some folks do not believe Black voices or thoughts exist in the graphic/comic book world either as characters or producers/directors. I'm pleased to see this assumption proven wrong over and over and over. I shocked a guy in a Barnes & Noble when he saw that I was reading Hack/Slash and slowly backed away from me.

  • Adam Scott Thompson | September 14, 2012 11:11 AMReply

    What's great about adapting comics and graphic novels is you already have storyboards to work from.

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