Warner Bros. has officially "greenlit" production of AKIRA, the studio's long-in-development live-action adaptation of the classic manga and anime created by Katsuhiro Otomo. The studio announced in July that it had hired Unknown and House of Wax director Jaume Collet-Serra to replace Albert Hughes, who left the project amid fan outcry (led by the beloved Japanese-American actor George Takei) over alleged plans to cast the film with Caucasian actors, but production was delayed as Collet-Serra and producers worked to reduce the budget, which Variety reports was initially estimated at $100 million. TRON: Legacy actor Garrett Hedlund is apparently in the running for one of the two lead roles.
Amusingly, the news comes in the same week that Fox released the first trailer for Chronicle, which from the looks of it is basically found footage of AKIRA with white people, and in the same week that popular electronic music outfit M83 released its music video for "Midnight Son," which is basically AKIRA with white people in slow motion. You can watch both after the cut.
Created by Katsuhiro Otomo in the form of a manga serial and feature-length animated film, both of which are considered landmark works of art and superlative examples of their respective mediums, AKIRA is the story of super-science, politics and nihilistic youth in revolt set against a post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo. Its main characters are Kaneda and Tetsuo, two motorcycle gang members and the best of friends -- until the latter is cursed with uncontrollable powers that cause him to get locked up in a science lab with other peculiar children before wreaking havoc across the city. It seems very likely that the Warner Bros. version, co-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, will star Caucasians in the lead roles despite the objections of George Takei and many AKIRA fans.
Directed by Josh Trank (Big Fan) and written by Max Landis, Chronicle appears to be a movie about more or less the same thing but with white people and Michael B. Jordan from Friday Night Lights and in the found footage format popularized by films like the Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield.
Along similar lines, dreampop/electro musician Anthony Gonzalez aka M83 released this week the beautiful music video for his latest single, "Midnight City." Directors Fleur & Manu directly credit AKIRA as an inspiration in the YouTube description of the clip, which also gives props to Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Village of the Damned. It's also a cool bit of synchronicity that this video came out the same week as the final trade paperback volume of Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield's excellent FreakAngels webseries, which has been lauded for its synthesis of manga storytelling techniques and western styles, and uses an AKIRA-like event as a launchpad for its emotional saga about incredibly powerful teenagers in a post-apocalyptic society. It's very easy to imagine Ellis and Duffield's characters jamming to this one:
Truly, we live in a golden age of white AKIRA films.
ComicsAlliance is where comic books and pop culture collide, superheroes battle through movies and video games, and graphic novels steal the headlines.
For the latest news on Marvel Comics, DC Comics, comic downloads, comic book movies, digital comics, free comics, and comic book movies, check out Comicsalliance.com.