Akira

akira

By the time Orphan and Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra was originally hired to helm the live-action adaptation of the legendary manga and anime property “Akira,” the project had already seen so many ups and downs and been forced into so many compromises that we reacted incredulously to the idea that he’d ever actually get the job done. Sure enough, a number of months later it was announced that, due to problems with budget, script, and casting, the entire production was being put on hold. It wasn’t long after this hiccup that Collet-Serra, an in-demand director, dropped off the project completely in order to head for greener pastures, thus rendering Akira delayed indefinitely Despite all of this, Akira has long proven to be a project that refuses to die, just about as fervently as it refuses to live, so of course there are reports that the whole thing is about to start up production all over again.

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Akira Concept Art

So far, despite many threats, the American version of Akira remains unmade. It’s been nothing but non-stop partying everyday that the movie hasn’t started production, but these bits of concept art from Chris Weston might be reason to spend ten minutes quietly admiring what could have been before returning to the punch bowl. Stunning storyboards do not an excellent film make, but there’s no denying how unbelievably imaginative these are. At the behest of erstwhile director Albert Hughes, Weston is a tower of talent lending himself to an iconic story, and his particular set of skills lend themselves well. Check out the art for yourself, thanks to the eagle eyes at io9:

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The flames are hot here in development hell, and there’s way too much cocaine. Way, way too much. So why wouldn’t we come back? When we first examined 8 Promised Movies That Still Haven’t Been Made, it was an exploration of the complex world of filmmaking where the smallest issue can derail an entire project potentially worth millions. Nervous executives, scheduling conflicts, hangnails. Getting a movie made is a miracle, and even those that get hailed in the press as moving forward are sometimes abandoned. Considering our national grand obsession with hypotheticals, here are 8 more movies we were told would happen that haven’t (including some that won’t).

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Although the real question keeping Hollywood awake in 2012 is “Does Winston Wolf clean up dead hookers on Yom Kippur?”, the fine folks over at HitFix have put forth a handful of queries of varying importance which filmmakers, studios and fans might have on their minds this year. It’s their 15 Questions Keeping Hollywood Awake in 2012. With concerns from Lindsay Lohan’s possible last chance to Joss Whedon’s first real shot with The Avengers, it’s an intriguing list that might prove 2012 to be both an endlessly fascinating and completely irrelevant year in the stories behind the movies. Will Smith, Found Footage, Hunger Games, Dark Knight Rises and more. HitFix has questions, and here are the answers:

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Here’s yet another upside to the Akira shutdown (beyond the immediate benefit of the project hopefully just not getting made in its current, bizarrely tone-deaf state) – its star Garrett Hedlund is negotiating for a role in a film that actually sounds somewhat suitable for him. Imagine that! Variety reports that, with Hedlund’s schedule currently much more open post-Akira-shutdown-gate, he’s negotiating for a role in the Coen Brothers‘ next film, Inside Llewyn Davis. The film is already set to star Oscar Isaac in the titular role, and follows the character of Davis, a 60s folk singer based on Dave Van Ronk. While Hedlund’s role is not yet specified, the film is set during the 1960s in New York’s Greenwich Village and will likely be populated with a number of characters that, like Isaac’s, will be based on famous performers. While Hedlund might have underwhelmed in Tron: Legacy, his singing work in Country Strong was lovely and more than capable, and he exhibited a true country twang that should cross over nicely to a folk singer role.

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The proposed live action Akira being developed over at Warner Bros. is slowly and steadily becoming the most talked-about film project of all time. The ups and downs of bringing this beloved story to the big screen have been well documented, but the most recent news made it look like this project might finally be ending its wild ride. Reports came in last week that all work on the film had been halted, the entire thing was being rethought, and maybe it could get scrapped indefinitely. But that was last week. This week, Variety is reporting that a new strategy for resuscitating director Jaume Collet-Serra’s project is being hatched. It sure didn’t take long to get the roller coaster going again. Last week’s reports said that the main reason for Akira being halted was that it needed to, yet again, go through some budget cuts. But according to a source that talked to Variety, that’s not exactly the case. While trimming some more fat from the budget is certainly something that Collet-Serra and his producers are looking at, mainly the reason the film is being re-tooled is just that there are still problems with the script they’re working with. Reportedly there are still questions about some character elements and the film’s look. And that’s after this thing has already received rewrites from the likes of Steve Kloves and David James Kelly.

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The live-action adaptation of the legendary manga and anime property Akira has had one of the rockiest roads to the big screen of any movie I can remember. There is a lot of disagreement out there about what a Hollywood version of Akira should look like, but I think the one thing everyone can agree on is that nothing Warner Bros. has tried to do with the property so far has come close to hitting the mark. Back when Albert Hughes was still going to direct the project there were fan gripes about the film being forced into a PG-13 rating, after Hughes left the project everyone was left to complain about a new director and a slashed budget, and I don’t think anybody has been thrilled with any of the casting that has been done. But, finally, the time for tears may be over. Heat Vision is reporting that a stop has been put to all work on the project. Offices are closing, talent is being sent home, and the whole thing is being re-thought. Director Jaume Collet-Serra and producers Jennifer Kiloran Davisson and Andrew Lazar will spend the next couple weeks ironing out issues with the script and trying to once again cut the budget, this time from the $90m range down to the $60 or $70m range, so that deals can be made with more actors. As of now, Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) is the only name that they’ve been able to secure, with actors like Kristen […]

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Merch Hunter

Christmas time is here. It’s now totally official – a patch of black ice and a totalled car can attest to that for me – so the concerns of the merch buyers out there have probably shifted away from self-servient purchases to more altruistic ones. Good to remember that buying someone something that you want is often a hidden win, since they might get sick of it and you’ll get to keep it. Just saying. Anyway, while you might be thinking about buying for other people, it’s still important to look after number one, and the three offerings below for this week’s column should hopefully represent enough of a draw to get you reaching for the credit card. Especially number two on the list. P.S. If you happen to have $500k in your sock drawer, or in that loose change bottle you keep in the office, the greatest movie poster collectible of all time is now for sale on eBay.

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After Gary Oldman reportedly passed on the role, Ken Watanabe (an actual Japanese person!) has been offered the part of The Colonel in the remake of Akira. The fine folks at Twitch dropped the news, and they also point out that Watanabe’s work in the United States has all been through Warner Bros. so the partnership makes a lot of sense. What doesn’t exactly make sense is why they didn’t go to him first. His profile is fairly high after so many years in the spotlight, especially after coming through strong in Inception. What also still doesn’t make sense is why all the characters are keeping their Japanese names while being completely white bread. If everyone signs on the dotted line and Watanabe ends up calling Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart by the names from the Manga (while they simply call him The Colonel), it’s going to sound more than a little bizarre. Hooray for Americanized remakes!

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Casting continues to come together for Jaume Collet-Serra’s live-action adaptation of the dystopian anime Akira. Or, at least, casting rumors continue to come together. I’m not certain that any of this has been officially announced by the production. For a while now it’s been thought that Tron: Legacy’s Garrett Hedlund is signed to play the character Shotaro Kaneda, the motorcycle gang-leading protagonist of the story. That one seems to be a pretty sure lock. Recently, word came out that roles had been offered to veteran actors Gary Oldman and Helena Bonham Carter as well. That announcement seems a little less certain than Hedlund’s involvement, but it hasn’t been refuted by any official sources. And now Twitch is adding to the casting rumor pile by saying that Kaneda’s sometime adversary, sometime love interest Kei has been cast as well. Apparently, an offer is on the table for Kristen Stewart to play the psychic medium with terrorist ties. If this is the case, then it would put Stewart in yet another high profile role in yet another high profile genre picture. Factor in that next year she is starring in Snow White and the Huntsman, and that’s a lot of mystical lasses for one young actress to take on. When you’re cast in something that’s as big of a phenomenon as Twilight, the threat of being typecast is always there. Is Stewart having trouble finding non-genre roles after being ingrained in most of the world’s head as Bella Swan, or are these […]

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This whole Akira remake business is still incredibly flimsy, but it’s starting to get some weight behind it. Even though Jaume Collet-Serra hasn’t done anything so far to prove that he can handle this type of material (or that he’s anything more than average as a filmmaker), and even though it was recently rumored that Tron Legacy‘s Garrett Hedlund was being considered for the main role, news of two heavy-hitting actors possibly joining the cast might help wash away all the bad aftertaste. Or at least some of it. Twitch is reporting that two-time Oscar nominee Helena Bonham-Carter and shockingly no-time Oscar nominee Gary Oldman are in more developed talks to join the cast as Lady Miyako and The Colonel respectively. Oldman’s role (going by the original) would see him doing some awesome genetic testing, placing Neo-Tokyo (or wherever they end up setting it) under martial law, and generally being a bad ass. As for Bonham-Carter, Miyako was a male figure in the original, so it’s unclear whether she’d be playing his wife, or if the character has been changed to a female role. Casting two incredible actors helps a lot, but the whole project is still a massive gamble that just hasn’t set any fireworks off yet. Seeing a poster for a beloved story that reads “From the Director of Orphan” isn’t exactly the kind of thing that sets heartbeats pounding. Maybe a villainous Oldman is enough?

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Jaume Collet-Serra is a filmmaker that specializes in the ridiculousness. With both Orphan and Unknown, he managed to spin conventional sounding stories into big pieces of oddball-ness, although he was less successful with his “I don’t know who I am!” thriller. Somehow, his slightly deranged Orphan and slightly less deranged Unknown made bank for Warner Brothers. So it’s not much of a surprise that the studio has brought on the up and comer to helm the Akira remake, which I think we have a good chance of seeing in, let’s say, 2025.

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Akira, at this point, is starting to look like a modern-day Watchmen. Plagued with difficulties, personnel changes, and misfires – maybe it’ll be a couple of decades before it actually gets made. Someone being born this year might end up playing Kaneda. But, still, Watchmen eventually got made, so who knows what fate has in store for the live-action remake of the anime classic. What it doesn’t have in store, according to Deadline Osaka, is Albert Hughes as director. One half of the Hughes Brothers directing team was set to make the film, but now he’s reportedly off the project and parting on friendly terms. It leaves a job open, though, and it allows film fans to dream of who their top choice for the job would be. For weirdness’s sake, I’d say either Terrence Malick or Terry Gilliam channeling Brazil. It’s not the only project to lose a director today, though. Variety is reporting that David O. Russell is off of Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. The profound change there comes, also, from creative differences, but it will mean finding a new screenwriter as well. Thus, Uncharted is back to square one. Does that mean he might be able to go back and finish Nailed or get an early start on the Untitled Ice Cube Project? One can only hope.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column with a bunch of movie news in it. What, are you new here?

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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The Akira remake news train is going to keep plowing forward – so far speeding over Zac Efron, the potential audience and now veteran actor Morgan Freeman. Freeman is rumored to be circling around the role of the Colonel – a vital component in the story. He’s the closest thing to a father figure the plot has, and he does experiments on a young man that result in turning him into a giant globular monster. Warning: if you don’t like hearing negative things about Morgan Freeman, do not read on.

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The ups and downs of getting a new version of Akira to the big screen have felt a lot like a rollercoaster (pardon the cliche), and like any rollercoaster, here’s the part where we all throw up at the end. First it was Leonardo DiCaprio taking the lead role as Kaneda, and that died on the vine. Then we learned that the Hughes Brothers would be directing, it would be PG-13, and that the Hughes Brothers wouldn’t be involved in a pre-planned sequel. Now, it looks like the live-action version of the cult 1988 anime classic might be packed with Zac. Efron has been offered the lead role according to Bloody Disgusting, and there’s just no way to spin this positively. The whole project seems like a crew attempting to cash in instead of treating the source material with any love or relevance. Efron might have the role inside of him, but it hasn’t come out on screen so far, and his acting is usually bland. Does he have it in him to stop a young girl from getting raped? Or to stop fake-tanning long enough to live in the seedy, drug-infested world that this demands?

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Akira

Yes, we are most likely getting a PG-13 adaptation of Akira. My reaction and everyone else’s will be a bit similar to Albert Hughes’s response when asked about it possibly being rated-R.”You would think,” said the director, who (along with his brother) became attached to the project earlier this year. If you’ve read the series or seen the excellent 1988 anime then you know this isn’t material you’d associate with teens. It’s very hard-R. Warner Brothers, on-the-other-hand, apparently thinks it has to be PG-13. That’s not very surprising though considering how much money they’ll be sinking into it, but it’s still saddening none-the-less.

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The live-action Akira is close to having not one, but two directors. Will its wanton greed pay off?

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Akira2011

For a while we’ve thought that Akira was dead, but now his friends are resurrecting him and taking him in blob form into production starting in 2010.

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