Some production notes were made available for the supposed upcoming live-action version of Akira, which is supposed to get the good ‘ole heave-ho try by Hollywood. The notes come courtesy of the April 4th, 2019 issue of Production Weekly. Specifically, issue 1138.
There are a number of topics covered, but one of them includes a production synopsis for Akira, which they list as being in “active development”, and listing people like Leonardo DiCaprio and Katsuhiro Otomo as the producers. Most notably is the synopsis of the film, which will purportedly be made in collaboration with Legendary Entertainment and Piki Films, Taika Waititi’s production outfit.
ComicBook.com copied the text from the production photo and laid it out for easy reading, where it states…
“When a young man’s telekinesis is discovered by the military, he is taken in to be turned into a super weapon and his brother must race to save him before Manhattan is destroyed by his powers. Kaneda is a bar owner in Neo-Manhattan who is stunned when his brother Tetsuo is abducted by Government agents lead by the Colonel. Desperate to get his brother back, Kaneda agrees to join Ky Reed and her underground movement who are intent on revealing to the world what truly happened to New York City 30 years ago when it was destroyed.
“Kaneda believes their theories to be ludicrous, but after facing his brother again is shocked when he displays telekinetic powers. Ky believes Tetsuo is headed to release a young boy. Akira, who has taken control of Tetsuo’s mind, Kaneda clashes with the Colonel’s troops on his way to stop Tetsuo from releasing Akira, but arrives too late. Akira soon emerges from his prison courtesy of Tetsuo as Kaneda races to save his brother before Akira once again destroys Manhattan island as he did thirty years ago.”
Right off the bat most people will note that this sounds like a hot mess. Kaneda isn’t described as the leader of a ragtag biker gang, but is instead a bartender, and Akira is described as some sort of poltergeist from beyond the grave with telekinetic mind-control powers using a hapless Tetsuo to do his bidding.
Most notably is that a post-war Neo-Tokyo is substituted for a post-war Manhattan in New York City. In old interviews Waititi also stated that he wanted the leads to be Asian.
As I mentioned, it sounds like a sloppy omelet made on a rimless skillet on a flaming gas oven with no temperature control.
However, there is a caveat.
While Production Weekly is a legitimate news source for Hollywood movie productions, Otaquest.com believes that the production notes may be a cobbled together amalgamation of outdated info from someone close to the project.
They point to a series of older production notes from 17 years ago back in 2002, as well as some of the information that surfaced from the attempts to get the live-action version of the film off the ground in 2008. They note that the latest synopsis is basically a retread of the old synopsis from years ago, and that there’s still no confirmation that Taika Waititi is still officially signed on to direct, nor is there any confirmation that Warner Bros., has properly greenlit production to move forward.
Now all of this is true.
Information is scant and confirmation is thin.
However, Production Weekly’s missive does contain the caveat that it’s still in “active development” and not “active production”. So it doesn’t discount anything mentioned in the OtaQuest article, in the same way that the OtaQuest article doesn’t actually debunk what’s mentioned in the Production Weekly piece. It’s more like a warning: this is subject to change and take it with a healthy dose of salt. They explain….
“While it is very possible that Taika Waititi will direct the film, and is honestly something we’d hope for, it’s too early to be voicing concern over an unconfirmed synopsis that eerily screams out various scrapped parts of the project since it initially entered development in 2002.”
So where does that leave the Akira live-action film? Well, pretty much with what little information we have now. For as far as we know the movie is still aligned with following a story of Tetsuo and Kaneda as brothers living in Manhattan, and the film will still follow the telekinetic mishaps that spawn from Tetsuo’s capture by the military.
Technically, if you really want to see a good live-action movie based on Akira, just watch Chronicle.
(Thanks for the news tip Fine Fictional Men)