Akira (Original)

Warner Bros.’ live-action adaptation of Akira has gone through so many rough patches at this point that it’s a struggle for us to even remember at any given time whether it’s on again, or off. But Jaume Collet-Serra hasn’t lost track, because he’s still planning to direct. In fact, it’ll “hopefully” be his next project.

Whether that’s good news or bad news for fans of the source material is another question. While Collet-Serra says he wants to be “respectful,” he’s not interested in being overly faithful. For one thing, he hopes to “bring strong characters” into the film because he doesn’t find any of the characters from the original to be interesting. Read his comments after the jump.

Collet-Serra first boarded Akira in 2011, only for Warner Bros. to pull the plug in 2012. He’d planned a $90 million version of the film, but the studio only wanted to spend about $60-70 million. Collet-Serra was able to whittle down the budget, however, so last summer the studio fired up the project again. Now that Non-Stop is finished, Collet-Serra seems eager to jump back onto Akira. ”It’s great that they’re waiting for me,” he told Coming Soon.

Explaining his approach to the iconic source material, Collet-Serra made it clear the he is not interested in simply replicating the anime as a live-action film.

It’s different, because you have to be respectful of the source material. Otomo adapted his own work from a manga into an anime and both things are completely different and genius. The only way to do a live version of “Akira” is to take the spirit and adapt it. It will be as different as the anime was from the manga.

One of the biggest differences will be Collet-Serra’s take on the characters — which shouldn’t come as a surprise if you caught the casting call from a few years back.

I hope that I can bring strong characters. In the original source material, I don’t think the main characters are the protagonists. What I’m hoping is to bring characters.

[...]

Nobody’s interesting [in the anime]. Tetsuo’s interesting because weird sh*t happens to him, and Kaneda is so two-dimensional. That’s part of the Japanese culture, they never have strong characters. They’re used as a way to move the other philosophy forward.

Collet-Serra has a point — many a movie has fallen apart because the filmmakers were too beholden to the source material. And since he didn’t go into detail about how, exactly, he plans to change the story, we can’t judge how successful his take is, or even how different it actually is.

Still, whether or not Collet-Serra thinks they’re “strong” enough, teen bikers Tetsuo and Kaneda are beloved figures from an iconic film. We can’t imagine there won’t be fan grumbling if these characters are replaced by, say, an adult bartender and his brother, as was reported in 2011. If you’ve seen the movie or read the manga, what do you think?

[Additional source: Collider]

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