After being away from motion pictures for close to a decade, the Hughes brothers returned in a big way with January’s The Book of Eli. While not a huge smash, though still in the ballpark of earning $90 million domestically, Warner Bros. must have been pleased in the product that Albert and Allen Hughes delivered. Now there’s a report that the tandem is finalizing a deal to direct the long-gestating live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira. It was originally conceived as a two-part film to be directed by Ruairi Robinson back in 2008. But the WGA strike pushed the films back. But by last September, the remake was said to be close to rolling into production. Today, Vulture broke the news that the two-film idea was again the plan. The first film should make its arrival next year, which, if it holds firm, is pretty impressive considering the complexity of the material.
Instead of Neo-Tokyo, the setting will be New Manhattan. The city is a new megalopolis built decades after the destruction of the original Manhattan was destroyed by an apparent nuclear explosion that led to the start of World War III. Actually, the explosion was the manifestation of psychic power in a young boy named Akira. Thirty years later those same powers awaken in Tetsuo, a new wave of global destruction is set into motion.
It’s been years since I’ve watched the original film, but the anime was a landmark moment for the medium. When it tried to get a theatrical release in the States between 1988 and 1989, directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas thought the film was unmarketable for audiences. It would go to a niche audience on home video, and came out on Blu-ray in February 2009.
The decision of the Hughes brothers getting the directing gig isn’t that much of shocker; The Book of Eli has a distinct visual palette and I’m sure Akira will be the same. Iron Man writers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby are currently adapting the nearly 2,200 page graphical novel, which consists of six parts, into two films. The first film would be comprised of the first three parts of the graphic novel, while the second film consists of the novel’s last half.
The last time the Hughes brothers adapted a graphic novel to screen it was Alan Moore’s From Hell. It was a disappointing despite Johnny Depp’s involvement. (Though, it would be a few more years before Depp blew up on screen as Captain Jack Sparrow.) Given the scope of the project, I don’t know how the film could meet a 2011 release date. Casting will be crucial, because it will be up to them to help steer the audience through the complex plot.
Expect an official announcement from Warner Bros. later this week.
Tags: The book Of Eli