Warner Bros gives 'Akira' the greenlight with Garrett Hedlund eyed to star
Looks like Akira and Tetsuo are set to battle it out again after all.
It also looks like the time Garrett Hedlund spent learning how to ride those lightcycles for "TRON Legacy" is going to pay off as he signs a deal to star in the film.
I can think of few films that make less sense for a Westernized live-action remake than the original animated "Akira." It is, like "Godzilla," literally born from the ashes of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, an anxious SF parable about living with the unexpected consequences of the nuclear age. There is a strange surreal paranoia to the original, which is a massive compression of the manga series, and the youth of the main characters is important because the story deals with young people inheriting the horror that resulted from the generation before them. The storytelling in that film is oblique, and the iconography is very Japanese.
I've read several drafts of the project as they've been working on it, and they're certainly doing their own version. When people protest about actors being the wrong age for the characters, they're basing that on the Japanese film. That's really not what this American "Akira" is, which of course raises the question, "Why even call it 'Akira'?"
I am actually surprised to hear that Warner Bros finally decided to greenlight the film. I've been watching them develop this since they brought Ruairi Robinson onboard as writer/director, then through the Hughes Bros. being onboard, and now finally with Jaume Collet-Serra getting the studio to say yes. According to the Variety story, they're aiming to make this for somewhere in the neighborhood of $90 million. That's positively miserly by big-event-movie standards, and now I'm curious just to see what they're talking about with an "Akira" on that scale.
I have a feeling this is going to be one of the hardest sells by any studio when it comes out, just by the nature of the story. I'm sort of perversely fascinated in the idea of the film at this point, just because of how strange a choice it is. I'm really not sure what the studio or the director sees in Hedlund, who was perfectly serviceable in "TRON Legacy." I don't have a real problem with him, but I'm also not particularly compelled by him. Maybe the smaller budget means they don't need to cast movie stars in the lead, but I'd imagine you want all the box-office help you can get on a project like this.
Whatever the final casting, I assume now that the greenlight's been given, we'll be hearing a lot more about "Akira" in the weeks and months ahead.