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.