Jordan Peele Won’t Direct the Live-Action ‘Akira’
Ever in search of the Next Big Thing™, Hollywood thought it had found it: Live-action adaptations of classic anime. These cartoons have a decidcated hardcore audience, tons of built-in name recognition, and the sorts of exciting visuals that lend themselves to massively budgeted CGI spectacles. It was perfect. This would work.
Then Ghost in the Shell opened.
Technically, it’s still out in theaters. But not for long; last weekend Rupert Sanders’ interpretation of the iconic manga and anime made just $101,000 on less than 200 screens around the country. After seven weekends in theaters, Ghost in the Shell has made only $40.4 million in the U.S.; even after you add in the $128 million it’s made elsewhere, that doesn’t begin to cover the reported $110 million budget and a major marketing spend. Plus, the movie’s casting of white actors like Scarlett Johansson became hugely controversial, essentially rendering the very idea of taking Asian properties, de-diversifying them (“deverisfying”?), and turning them into big Hollywood spectacles borderline radioactive.
So I was not at all surprised to read at Blumhouse.com that Jordan Peele, actor and comedian turned hottest genre director in Hollywood, is not going to helm a live-action remake of Akira, as was previously rumored. Here’s what the acclaimed Get Out filmmaker told the site:
I think [I could do it] if the story justifies it. 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.
This is the only choice that makes sense. If Peele is a huge Akira fan, it’s easy to see the appeal of getting to bring it to life in a way no one has before. But the risks of such a project, particularly after Ghost in the Shell, are enormous. And the reason to make an Akira movie beyond blind fan love would be purely financial; a big paycheck and, if the movie is then a hit, the chance to make original passion projects in its wake. But Get Out was already enough of a sensation that Peele has more than enough clout and buzz to do whatever he wants right now without Akira’s help. In short, Akira needs him way more than he needs Akira.