Warner Bros. has been trying to adapt the popular 1988 anime Akira for a while now. You can go through our archives and see that the title has passed through directors including The Hughes Brothers (From Hell), Ruairi Robinson (The Last Days on Mars), and Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) with the Collet-Serra version coming closest to production before the studio decided to pull the plug.
The project continues to live on (although if Ghost in the Shell tanks this weekend, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Akira go back into development hell), and now The Tracking Board reports that the studio wants Get Out helmer Jordan Peele to take the reigns.
For those who are unfamiliar with the story, the anime takes place in Neo-Tokyo and follows the leader of a biker gang, Kaneda, as he teams up with a resistance member, Kei, and others to fight his friend Tetsuo, who is threatening to unleash his psychic powers on the city. It’s weird, visually impressive, and the last half of the film feels like Kaneda and Tetsuo just shouting each other’s names for a long time.
It’s not an easy project to tackle, and it makes sense why Warner Bros. has been struggling with the adaptation for so long. While Peele has become a hot filmmaker thanks to the success of Get Out, Akira feels like a trap for someone who clearly has interesting things to say. I can see Akira easily being a big, expensive-looking blockbuster, but I doubt it will be half as interesting as Get Out or the other “social thrillers” Peele says he is devising.
Additionally, Peele doesn’t really need a blockbuster to prove he can make a smash hit. It’s not like he’s an indie filmmaker who’s outside looking in. Get Out is one of the biggest success stories of the year, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. Warners needs Peele more than he needs them, and while I wouldn’t be opposed to Peele tackling a blockbuster, I think there’s more interesting material out there for him.