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Werthead

Taika Waititi directing live-action AKIRA for 2021 release

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Posted (edited)

This is happening.

Waititi has agreed to direct Warner Brothers' long-gestating AKIRA project. Waititi's plan is to go back to the graphic novel series, meaning this will likely only be the first part of the story (the 1988 anime compressed over 2,500 pages into two hours, which didn't really work well).

Most encouragingly, Waititi has apparently reversed the previous script's decision to move the action in the United States. He wants to return to a Japanese setting with Asian actors. It's unclear if Warners has agreed to that, but Waititi is a proper AKIRA fanboy (his mother took him to see it in the cinema in 1988) and his current movie credit (after the huge success of THOR: RAGNAROK and the WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS TV show) is sky-high, so he may have leveraged that. Negotiations have been going on for months, with Marvel also courting Waititi for a THOR sequel, so Waititi had a lot of power in these negotiations.

The film is now set for release on 21 May 2021.

Edited by Werthead

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Cool. I've actually never seen the original, but always wanted to. I helped one of my best friends move a few weeks back and told him so he tossed me is copy to keep since he was junking most things. 

I guess I should have just said when we were in college, lol.

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The man can direct and bring comics/manga to life. Looking forward to this.

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Unless he's a superfan I'm not sure he's a great fit. I enjoy his work but it's very much comedy/not taking itself seriously. I only have the anime to go off but a comedy version of it doesn't fit for me. I'm dure it'll be funny and entertaining - just not the Akira i know or would expect

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Don't have any experience of Akira, so am just happy to hear that Waititi is involved in another big project. I'd go to a film called "A expansive view of extremely long alpha-numerical lists" if he was directing. 

Re: tone. 

I tend to think that comedy can be the best vehicle for serious drama. The moment when the laughter freezes and the carpet is pulled out from beneath the feet of audience and characters is one of my favourite film/theatre tropes.  The darkness at the edge of a smile. 

Thor: Ragnarok certainly veered mostly towards pure comedy, but I think that worked very well in a Marvel context. What We Do In The Shadows similarly was on the surface largely black comedy. Hunt for the Wilderpeople had a lot more serious notes in the mix. Waititi isn't incapable of seriousness - whether he chooses to go down that path is more the question. Especially since he's been praised so much for his comic work - hopefully he hasn't decided that comedy is the only thing he does based on the reception of Thor and WWDitS

 

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As well as the live-action movie for 2021, the original film is getting a 4K remaster for release next April. More excitingly, there is also going to be a brand-new TV anime which will faithfully adapt the manga to the screen. Sunrise is working with the original writer on the new show.

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10 hours ago, Werthead said:

As well as the live-action movie for 2021, the original film is getting a 4K remaster for release next April. More excitingly, there is also going to be a brand-new TV anime which will faithfully adapt the manga to the screen. Sunrise is working with the original writer on the new show.

Now THIS is exciting. The Manga is much longer and complex from what I remember, I'd really like to see that.

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Posted (edited)

Looks like not anymore. With the news that Waititi will direct Thor 4, also came the news that Akira is being put on indefinite hold. https://www.indiewire.com/2019/07/taika-waititi-thor-4-direct-akira-delayed-1202158318/

Quote

The news of Waititi directing “Thor 4” comes as Warner Bros. puts a hold on “Akira.” The live-action adaptation of the popular Japanese manga and anime film is going on hiatus indefinitely, Variety reports. Waititi was in the process of casting the lead for the film but “creative concerns” have put the film back into development. Warner Bros. had set “Akira” for a release on May 21, 2021, but that date is now likely to be pulled. 

My guess is the "creative concerns" are around Waititi's desire to go with Asian actors in an Asian setting, as Werthead mentioned in the OP, and the studio may doesn't want that.

Edited by Corvinus

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According to the Hollywood Reporter, Warner has put the film on hold until Waititi is done with Thor 4, then they will reassess. Apparently the script wasn't quite in the right place, but no other big-name director is interested in tackling the project, so Waititi is still the only game in town.

There may also be an interesting synergy, as this new timeline lines up the movie with the new anime version, which should work better for cross-marketing purposes.

In addition, this also potentially solves Marvel's concerns over holding onto the Guardians team, as Thor 4 can also potentially work as a GotG 2.5 and keep that team in play until GotG3 can be remounted.

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On 7/16/2019 at 3:09 PM, Werthead said:

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Warner has put the film on hold until Waititi is done with Thor 4, then they will reassess. Apparently the script wasn't quite in the right place, but no other big-name director is interested in tackling the project, so Waititi is still the only game in town.

There may also be an interesting synergy, as this new timeline lines up the movie with the new anime version, which should work better for cross-marketing purposes.

In addition, this also potentially solves Marvel's concerns over holding onto the Guardians team, as Thor 4 can also potentially work as a GotG 2.5 and keep that team in play until GotG3 can be remounted.

Yup. Word on the street is him doing Thor 4 first means Akira is probably not getting made anytime soon if at all...

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6 hours ago, Joey Crows said:

Yup. Word on the street is him doing Thor 4 first means Akira is probably not getting made anytime soon if at all...

Seems to me that this is the likely situation. There might just be no way to make a decent live action Hollywood adaptation, or if not a decent adaptation one that will do well at the box office. I think Ghost in the Shell and Alita are suggesting to Hollywood that they should cool their heels on adapting this sort of material for a while.

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4 hours ago, The Anti-Targ said:

Seems to me that this is the likely situation. There might just be no way to make a decent live action Hollywood adaptation, or if not a decent adaptation one that will do well at the box office. I think Ghost in the Shell and Alita are suggesting to Hollywood that they should cool their heels on adapting this sort of material for a while.

Alita has apparently had a monstrously successful run on home media and streaming, though, much more than the studio had anticipated, so that may be factoring in in a more positive way, whilst the feedback to Ghost in the Shell was that it needed to be a more faithful adaptation. So Hollywood I think is still willing to take a punt on an adaptation if they can figure out how to crack it properly.

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18 minutes ago, Werthead said:

Alita has apparently had a monstrously successful run on home media and streaming, though, much more than the studio had anticipated, so that may be factoring in in a more positive way, whilst the feedback to Ghost in the Shell was that it needed to be a more faithful adaptation. So Hollywood I think is still willing to take a punt on an adaptation if they can figure out how to crack it properly.

That is interesting. I always imagined this was always just one of the many unimaginative ways Hollywood has of trying to crack the asian market these days. 

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2 hours ago, Werthead said:

Alita has apparently had a monstrously successful run on home media and streaming, though, much more than the studio had anticipated, so that may be factoring in in a more positive way, whilst the feedback to Ghost in the Shell was that it needed to be a more faithful adaptation. So Hollywood I think is still willing to take a punt on an adaptation if they can figure out how to crack it properly.

Really it was the USA that failed to step up with Alita. It did over $300 million outside the USA. If the US had shown it a bit more love it would have been counted a success a the box office alone. I enjoyed it, and I then went and watched the Anime just afterwards and it was quite faithful. But I think US studios still want to see a movie do well in the USA to have confidence, so <$100 million for Alita is reason to give studios pause. Doing well on streaming and home media is encouraging. I hope it gives studios some confidence in backing projects. But I think the suits need to let go a bit.

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