The Conversation: What Should Warner Bros. Do About 'Akira'?

The Conversation: What Should Warner Bros. Do About 'Akira'?

Jan 06, 2012

As we reported briefly this morning, Warner Bros. has apparently had some sort of trouble with its live-action Akira remake. Since then, other sources have claimed there was no problem with the budget and production did not necessarily shut down, though its offices are closed. Instead the studio is claiming they just need to make some changes to the script and are looking at the likes of Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight) and Michael Green (Green Lantern) for the fix.

The thing is, nobody is relieved by the clarification that Akira is indeed still breathing. With the initial news of a hump or even complete halt, the web was loud with hopes and requests for a definite kill shot. Only a few pros and fans were at the very minimum curious about the adaptation, yet even they think at this point it's best to just let it go. So why would the studio keep forcing something that clearly nobody with a voice on the Internet wants? Because they depend on those who don't know better, who don't follow every bit of movie news, who don't express much passion on Twitter, who will show up to (or at least rent) any damn spectacle Hollywood throws at them. 

Is there anything the studio can do to spark interest from the rest of us? Should they really listen to the web of true cinephiles and close the book on Katsuhiro Ohtomo's classic manga? I collected opinions and responses from the web, mostly in reaction to the original story about cost concerns to see what the consensus is. 


What are people saying to do about the Akira remake? Here's The Conversation heard around the Internet: 

Akira is now unlikely to resume unless the producers can find a way to shave another $20 to $30 million off of its already-slashed budget. For example, does the main character really need to ride a motorcycle? Motorcycles are expensive. What about skateboards? - Sean O'Neal, A.V. Club

For $60m maybe it can be about a suburban neighborhood bicycle gang, rather than urban motorcyclists? - Russ Fischer, /Film

A lower budget doesn’t mean a movie will be worse.  Restrictions can spur creativity.  I would rather see a couple of really well-done set pieces rather than a non-stop barrage.  The problem comes when there’s not enough imagination from the filmmakers and the action feels stale as a result.  If Akira can finally make it to theaters this time, it will be interesting to see if the lower budget paid off. - Matt Goldberg, Collider

I'm excited to see WB trying to do this on the cheap. I strongly believe Hollywood budgets are WAY too high, especially for genre films. If you make a film for a lower budget, it doesn't need to be a four quadrant smash, and you can try to do something interesting or special with it, instead of attempting to follow the usual blockbuster pattern. - Devin Faraci, Badass Digest

One way do it “right,” and bring the budget down, is by hiring Japanese actors, or actors of Japanese descent. I think it’s probably likely that Asian performers don’t earn the paychecks that whitey gets on a regular basis, especially when they’re non-native English speakers. I’d be surprised if John Cho from Star Trek and Harold & Kumar has a higher asking price than current-supposed-Kenada, Garret Hedlund. Not that Cho wouldn’t deserve it if he actually does, but that’s not typically how Hollywoodland rolls. Ken Watanabe probably isn’t cheap, but if he’s your highest paid guy, Mssrs. Warner, then you’re off to a good start. Well, a better start compared to bullshit. - Rob Payne, Pajiba

Yes, the movie nobody wanted promises to be even more skint. That is, unless the script revision fails miserably. Ergo, I plan on taking ventriloquism lessons, camouflaging myself as a plastic fern in the writers' room, and murmuring inordinately expensive propositions like "Kaneda and Tetsuo are time-traveling, 500-foot centaurs who, every thirty seconds, spontaneously combust into literal blizzards of cocaine and magma." - Cyriaque Lamar, i09

To be honest, it is kind of heartening to see a major studio not just throwing money at a movie and hoping for the best -- we just wish we were more excited about what they have on deck. - Gabe Toro, The Playlist

There is a chance that the entire project could be cancelled indefinitely. And, let’s be honest here, that’s got to be the end point that we’re all rooting for. This thing has been compromised from the start, whether monetarily, content-wise, as far as the creators behind the scenes go, or even when looking at the actors they’ve signed. Instead of trying to continually piece a broken project back together with duct tape and glue, it would probably be better to put the Akira source material back on the shelf and try to revisit it at a later date when doing the whole thing right might be more feasible. With the team they have in place now, and the approach they’ve been taking to the material, the whole thing has always just felt like a disaster. Why burn so many calories trying to push a potential flop into theaters? - Nathan Adams, Film School Rejects

I really did want to see an American take on the subject matter, but if they can't do it right, there's no point in doing it at all. - Nordling, Ain't It Cool News

This is a little disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, I have very little faith in Hollywood to adapt an anime into a live action film instead my disappointment is out of the curiosity of me wanting to see how bad the film could be. - Anthony Whyte, The Movie Blog

Before you break out the champagne and toast the defeat of a remake that most anime/manga fans never wanted, take note that the project is still on track to get made. - Derrick Deane, Freshly Popped (Fandango)

You have to admire their determination. - Jamie Williams, Think McFly Think

Most of us would be shutting down production on an Americanized, live-action Akira--now with adult white guys playing the teenager parts!--for the obvious reason of it being a generally bad idea [...] Akira shall return again, looking more and more like a local motorcycle shop commercial with each pass of an accountant's pen. - Mark, I Watch Stuff

Maybe Akira will come back from the dead again, but I’m almost hopeful it won’t. We don’t need this film, not now, not from these creatives, not under these circumstances. There’s been barely a trace of anybody treating this like a piece of entertainment, let alone art – all we’re seeing are balance sheet decisions. - Brendon Connelly, Bleeding Cool

Is it the end? Maybe not. But is the universe trying to send some sort of signal to Warner Bros.? We’d like to think so. [...] Akira might be Hollywood’s most popular cockroach. - Jamie Frevele, The Mary Sue

Sometimes it seems that certain movies just weren’t meant to be [...] If they are unable to slice another $20 to $30 million out of the pie, the movie could end up being shelved for good. Something tells me that might be the best move at this point. - Sean Dwyer, Film Junk

At a certain point, you just have to figure they’ll realize this movie just can’t be done and still be profitable, but don’t hold your breath. I say stick a fork in this sucker. It was a bad idea to begin with. - Craig Kennedy, Living in Cinema

If Warner is so worried that they're looking to shave even more money off the budget up front, why bother making it at all?  I can save you $90 million on it, Warner Bros.  Pull the plug.  If you can't be sure that people will want to see it, trust those instincts.  Believe in what your gut is telling you.  A big budget live-action "Akira" sounds like a total gamble, right?  It is.  And it's not a good kind of gamble, either.  It's more like one of those "end of a 36 hour losing streak/bet your wife and your house on a hand of blackjack" gambles.  If you win, yes, you walk away with a fistful of cash. But do you even want to risk losing on this one? - Drew McWeeny, Motion Captured (Hit Fix)

Hey, Warner Bros. -- I know a surefire way you can break even on the live-action Akira. Get a pen. Ready? DON'T FUCKING MAKE IT. - Rob Bricken, Topless Robot

Just let it die. - Jeff Leins, News in Film


Conversation Twitter Poll: What should Warner Bros. do to keep Akira alive? Or Should they just kill it?

@ThisIsDavidGelb: KILL IT!

@MisfitsTamara: KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!!! 

: Kill it. Possibly with fire.

@jennimiller76: yes. fire.

@brandonRohwer: they really need to let this one go.

@misterpatches: Make a found footage version. It'll only cost a million bucks!

@gholson: Warner Bros., please take the $90 million you would've spent on AKIRA and make three solid, original $30 million genre pics.

@jamesrocchi: Better: 6 15 mil. ones.

@MrPointyHead: Let's hope it doesn't restart.

@KrystalSim: Hope its development hell is perpetual, such a dumb idea

@ar_davidson: Unless it comes back as a musical.

@philkinch: Or done properly. Would be quite nice to see all the Great Akira Empire stuff brought to life on the big screen.


Follow Christopher Campbell on Twitter (@thefilmcynic) to join The Conversation.

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