'Unknown' Director Jaume Collet-Serra Eyes 'Akira'; Budget Scaled Back To $90 Million

by Kevin Jagernauth
July 14, 2011 7:54 AM
9 Comments
  • |


Well, that's funny. Just last night we reported that indie filmmakers The Polish Brothers were offered, and turned down, the chance to direct Warner Bros.' potential franchise "Akira," marking the first real word on the project ever since Albert Hughes bailed on the film at the end of May. Well, if anything, the Polish Brothers tidbit of info revealed that movement was still happening even if it wasn't out in the open, and now a new name is considering stepping into the high profile pic.

"Orphan" and "Unknown" helmer Jaume Collet-Serra is now in early talks to take on the movie. There has been much grumbling about the film from die hard fans of the original anime movie about Hollywood even attempting a redo, but if it's any small consolation, the filmmakers are using Katsuhiro Otomo's manga, not the film, as the basis for the adaptation. Steve Kloves, who has penned almost every "Harry Potter" film as well as the forthcoming "The Amazing Spider-Man," has turned in a draft which Warner Bros. is very happy with that also relocates the action to New Manhattan in a PG-13 film. However, there does seem to have been some changes made to just how much coin WB is willing to throw at the movie.

Back in May, reports surfaced that the studio was planning to drop $230 million on two films, the first installment adapting books 1-3 with the sequel bringing 4-6 in the series to life. Well, their ambitions have been scaled back slightly as Variety says the budget will be coming in at $90 million and there is no mention of two pics. We presume that's still the plan (unless the script went through a major overhaul), but it allows the studio to bring in two tentpole movies presumably for under $200 million. Not too bad.

For Collet-Serra, this marks another big movie that his name as been linked to this year alone, as he found himself on shortlists for "G.I. Joe: Cobra Strikes" and "300: Battle of Artemisia." The former went to Jon Chu and we presume the latter, if this all pans out, will find Noam Murro with one less competitor for the job. As for casting, early shortlist reports had Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy looking at the part of Tetsuo, with Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix flipping the pages for the part of Kaneda. That was a while ago and names may have changed, but we presume that's still the general direction they want to take with the potential leads.

As far as choices go, Collet-Serra isn't too bad. He's shown he can direct with flair and style and make even a banal premise more entertaining than it should be. And with "Unknown" playing worldwide to the tune of $130 million, audiences agree. However, there is already built-in negativity toward this project happening at all, and both the studio and Collet-Serra will have a long way to go to convince geeks this will be worth their while. But if they get the right leading men in place, the tide could very certainly shift.

You might also like:
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

9 Comments

  • Condor and the BBC | August 2, 2011 11:05 AMReply

    I think they need to throw asian actors in there. If they are too scared to throw in full Asian Japanese actors or actresses, there are a ton of up and coming hapa/half/Eurasian or Amerasian actors running around at least will throw some color into it.

    The problem is, all the big agencies in Hollywood CAA especially and for example, throw their big talent in and the casting and studios don't seem to look much further than this. I know this from being on the casting side. Good Ethnic actor, small agency, who cares? It's kind of a scam. People can't act like they don't know what's going on because everyone does.

    Another problem is for the casting directors who are open to casting Asian actors, their idea of beauty is so outdated. I am not knocking Lucy Liu in any sense or Kelly Hu but have you seen the bright eyed gorgeous unusual looking asian or half asian women that are out there? Look at the models now (not from 10 years ago) that are gracing the asian modeling market. Do they realize that there are unique faces out there? Come on hollywood.

    Maggie Q did change things a little but she cannot play every part. Even though that seems to be the go to. She is also not Japanese, nor does she look Japanese.

  • eshowoman | July 15, 2011 12:24 PMReply

    Didn't they learn anything from the Last Airbender fiasco? Whitewashing doesn't guarantee box office gold.

  • Jordan | July 14, 2011 12:38 PMReply

    Since they're trying to do an American remake in America, I don't mind the move to New York. But since it'll be in New York, the cast needs to be appropriately diverse. It doesn't have to be entirely Asian (if that's what you want then petition that Japan make the movie and not America), but there's some of everything in New York as far as ethnicity goes. That cast had better be as colorful as an effing rainbow. Furthermore, Robert Pattinson as Tetsuo? Yeah, okay, the casting director'll have to go into hiding if they seriously cast Pattinson as Tetsuo.

  • gonad | July 14, 2011 9:36 AMReply

    Obligatory 'director holding viewfinder' pic :D

  • KT | July 14, 2011 9:20 AMReply

    This shit is gonna bomb harder than Neo-Tokyo.

  • starway2001 | July 14, 2011 8:46 AMReply

    Steve Kloves did not write all of the Harry Potter movies. Most. But not all.

  • Puaena | July 14, 2011 8:22 AMReply

    Katsuhiro Otomo wrote the manga which came before the movie that he directed AND the manga is more intense than the movie. If they are bumping it down to PG-13, then it isn't based on the manga.

    The move to NYC doesn't bother me so much (actually it does but whatever) as the aging up of the characters. The story doesn't work with white guys in their 20s and 30s. Most of AKIRA's bite comes from fact the main characters are disenfranchised teenagers who are on the outside and therefore, easy to pick off and forget but who won't comply with the status quo.

    I really wish that WB would just let this one go. OR do it right. Take it back to Japan and keep the characters age specific.

  • Edward Davis | July 14, 2011 8:09 AMReply

    Yes, this project has been in the works for a LONG time, but still, it's crossed through the hands of 11 people are so.

  • Will | July 14, 2011 8:07 AMReply

    This project needs to die, unless they're going to grow some balls and cast Asian actors. If they don't think they can make back their money with Asian actors, well, then don't make movies about Asian characters.

Email Updates