One of the year’s biggest successes, both critically and commercially, has been Jordan Peele’s directorial debut horror film Get Out. The film has made $214 million against a budget of just $4.5 million, which is insane, so naturally in the wake of the movie’s popularity Peele was offered the chance to steer a big franchise movie. No longer must filmmakers prove themselves, step-wise, by working their way up to helming a $250 million blockbuster—now they’re given the keys straight out of Sundance. That’s what happened to Peele, as he was approached by Warner Bros. to spearhead the long-developing Akira remake.
But we recently learned that Akira would not be Peele’s next movie—instead he’s making another “social thriller” for Universal and Blumhouse, albeit with a budget more in the range of $25 million. And at a recent press event for the Get Out Blu-ray release, Peele told Blumhouse.com why he turned down the chance to helm Akira:
“I think [I could do it] if the story justifies it,” Peele said. “AKIRA is one of my favorite movies, and I think obviously the story justifies as big a budget as you can possibly dream of. But the real question for me is: Do I want to do pre-existing material, or do I want to do original content? At the end of the day, I want to do original stuff.”
That’s an incredibly admirable position to take and, honestly, we could use more filmmakers with this mentality. The fact is, movies like Akira or Captain America 4 or whatever are likely going to be made eventually (though Akira’s certainly had trouble). Peele would no doubt make a great version of these movies, but if he passes, they’ll still likely see the light of day regardless. But what definitely won’t get made unless Peele commits to it is his own original idea, which is how we get a film as chilling and visceral as Get Out.
Do I want to see Peele work on a large canvas, given the adeptness at character and tone he showed on Get Out? Sure! But if given the choice of having a Peele-directed Akira or a Peele-directed original movie that maybe tackles issues no one else is talking about, in a way few could bring to the screen, I’ll take the latter any day of the week.
Peele will likely, eventually, helm some sort of bigger budget movie, whether it’s a franchise film, a remake, or maybe even an original story. But I don’t get the rush to see him move right into the blockbuster fires. I’m more than happy to see him continue to make these smaller original films for the time-being (he says he wrote four more “social thrillers” in addition to Get Out), and it’s refreshing to see Peele take this route at this point in time. More of this please.