Max Evry wrote:ComingSoon.net: When you were working on "Akira"…
Collet-Serra: I'm still working on "Akira," so that's part of my life. (laughs)
CS: That's great that you're sticking with it despite the bumps in the road.
Collet-Serra: It's great that they're waiting for me. 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.
CS: What worries myself and a lot of the other fans of the property is you have elements that are commercial and sexy, like the motorbikes or the jaw-dropping futuristic backdrop, but for the most part it's a very cerebral work. How do you maintain the essence of that without diluting it into essentially "Blade Runner: Mark 2"?
Collet-Serra: I think you cannot make a movie about "Akira" and hope that everyone understands it. Like everything else, you have to make three or four movies in one where there's the essence somewhere. If you're a fan, you already know what it's about and you'll see it's part of the same world, but trying to oversimplify it would be a mistake. I think if at some point a character tries to explain it to the audience at the end of the second act, that's a problem. It's more like an existential opera. It's something that can only be explained in the manga, and even in the anime it's hard to follow.
CS: And we all have that original anime, it's there, nothing can sully it, so if you were going to do it in live-action one would hope you would bring something new to the table. What is it you are bringing specifically that is going to make it yours?
Collet-Serra: 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.
CS: That's true. It's one of those strange stories where you literally never see the main character that is the namesake of the film!
Collet-Serra: Nobody's interesting. 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.
CS: They're ciphers.
Collet-Serra: Yeah. So hopefully in my version that will be strong, and you'll have a story that happens in that world that will show you a little bit of the mystery. Then, if you're interested, they'll make "Akira 2 & 3" then you can get deeper into it. I love the world, a lot of people love that world, so why wouldn't we indulge in it a little bit and see how it would be if it was real? Like you say I don't have to explain everything, but wouldn't you like to spend two-hours in a world of "Akira" and follow a character and be like, "that's cool"? That's all I want to offer, is two-hours in a world you can actually feel. We're working on it.
MIKE FLEMING JR wrote:After a fast rise as a Warner Bros production executive, Sarah Schechter is leaving the executive suite to become president of Warner Bros-based Berlanti Productions. She will run both the film and television shingles for writer, director and producer Greg Berlanti.
Schechter, who joined Warner Bros as a creative exec in 2005, rose to vice president in 2007 and senior vice president in 2009. Among the films she has been supervising is the Berlanti-produced Pan, which became a priority project on a first draft by Jason Fuchs. The 3D film now has Joe Wright aboard as director, Hugh Jackman playing Blackbeard and Garrett Hedlund playing Hook and it is prepping in London for June 26, 2015 release. She has also been supervising the Etan Cohen-directed Get Hard, the comedy that will star Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart, the Ben Affleck-directed adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel Live By Night and the Jaume Collet-Serra-directed Akira. Among her other projects building steam at the studio were the Garth Davis-directed Shantaram, the Michael Sucsy-directed film based on the blog 40 Days Of Dating, and the Whitey Bulger pic that Affleck and Matt Damon have been developing. She will transition her projects to other Warner Bros execs and should be in the new job by March. Current Berlanti Productions president Melissa Kellner Berman will become a producer of some of Berlanti’s projects, I’m told.
Schechter will also become a producer on Pan, which is the company’s big priority in film. Berlanti has a prolific TV operation, including the current series Arrow, The Tomorrow People, and Flash. On the feature side, he directed Life As We Know It and was a writer on Green Lantern and Wrath Of The Titans.
Before Warner Bros, Schechter was an exec at Barry Mendel Productions at Universal and worked on such films as Munich and The Royal Tenenbaums. She began working for Oscar-winning documentary director Barbara Kopple. Berlanti’s company is repped by WME.
MIKE FLEMING JR wrote:Harper was the first writer on Edge Of Tomorrow, and it seems bizarre to me that he didn’t get credit. After all, though Warner Bros changed the title, it paid $3 million in a spec auction for the scribe’s adaptation of All You Need Is Kill, the Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. Other writers came and went, but usually the Writers Guild favors the first scribe who adapts a novel and in this case, was the initial propulsion for the project. I will never understand the inconsistencies of the WGA arbitration process, just as I am still surprised that the Doug Liman-directed Tom Cruise-starrer didn’t get more love for being a new intellectual property creation that was sharp, tense, funny big-scale storytelling in a summer littered with sequels. Harper is currently working with Warner Bros, Appian Way, Mad Chance and director Jaume Collet-Serra on Akira, and recently did a draft on The Last Witch Hunter for Lionsgate. He’s repped by CAA and Management 360.
Charlie Jane Anders wrote:But Warner Bros. senior vice president Drew Crevello, who’s working on the upcoming Akira and Dungeons & Dragons movies, somewhat disagreed, saying:“You need at least one, if not two, people in the process to be true passionate fans—not because that ensures reverence, [but because] those are the ones who are best positioned to know, ‘Okay, this is a different medium and you have to diverge [from the source material], and have the courage to do that. [When I worked on] X-Men: First Class and Deadpoool [at Fox], and now with Akira and Stephen King’s The Stand, you have to have reverence for the material—but also, the courage to make the bold creative choices that you just know the fans will come along with you for.”
And yes, that last quote might be cause for a bit more nervousness about the already worrying Akira movie. And yet, the notion that the real fans of an original are the ones best positioned to take creative liberties with it, without throwing out the baby with the bathwater, is a really good point. And it flies in the face of our assumption the die-hard fans will be the ones fighting any changes.
Mark Hughes wrote:This week, Warner Bros. announced a July 21, 2017 release date for director Christopher Nolan’s next feature film. So far, details of the movie are a closely guarded secret. As my colleague Scott Mendelson noted earlier this week, the film is positioned as a major release in a spot traditionally reserved for big summer tentpoles. It will go head-to-head with some of 2017′s largest properties — including a rebooted Marvel version of Spider-Man and the latest Pirates of the Caribbean sequel. Nolan consistently delivers the box office goods for Warner, so the studio is rightly confident in him. But the choice of that release date suggests a particular sort of optimism, meaning it’s likely either an adaptation of a major property or one of the director’s high concept original ideas deserving prime real estate on the calendar.
The deal is a huge win for Warner, which has had a softer year so far in 2015 (but still has Black Mass, Into the Heart of the Sea, Creed, Pan, and Point Break as potential strong performers in the next several months). Only Mad Max: Fury Road and San Andreas stood out as major successes for Warner during the summer months. However, it’s worth noting that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was originally scheduled to release this summer but ended up delayed until next March, leaving a gap in the schedule and accounting for likely at least $1 billion in postponed revenue.
Next year’s crop of major franchise releases and big brands — including Batman v Superman, Barbershop 3, The Conjuring 2, Tarzan, Suicide Squad, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – should help push WB back into a much better position, and the delay of the Batman-Superman-Wonder Woman team-up is going to pay off big dividends in the long run when its coattails and the excitement about the new Batman is still so new it boosts Suicide Squad even higher than it might’ve performed.
Warner Bros. follows that with another slate of high-profile franchises in 2017, such as Wonder Woman, Justice League Part 1, LEGO Batman Movie, and Ready Player One. So Christopher Nolan’s latest project is scheduled to be part of another powerful push by Warner for a top position among all studios, and that means it has to be something big that can perform on par with 2017′s other blockbuster summer projects.
The studio has plenty of reason to trust Nolan. His last four films combined for $3.59 billion in worldwide box office in a seven-year period. Those films added another likely $1 billion from Blu-ray/DVD/Digital-HD sales and rentals around the globe, not to mention whatever revenue the additional merchandising brought in.
Those numbers make Christopher Nolan one of the most financially reliable investments of any filmmaker working today. Using the last decade for comparison purposes for the top-grossing filmmakers, Steven Spielberg’s directorial output has grossed a worldwide total of $2.33 billion; Peter Jackson comes in at $3.57 billion for the same period around the world; Michael Bay took $4.02 billion globally for his past decade of film directing; Christopher Nolan’s full box office tally over the previous ten year period comes to $4.07 billion, most of that (as already demonstrated above) coming in just a seven-year period; and David Yates brought in a huge $4.17 billion for the same period, all of it actually during a five-year period from 2007 to 2011.
Notice that while Jackson’s, Bay’s, and Yates’ totals were almost entirely (or in Yates’ case, completely) within a singular major franchise that accounted for the vast majority of their box office revenue, Spielberg and Nolan both managed to spread their revenue across several films. So even though Batman movies provided $2.4 billion of Nolan’s tally, he managed another $1.6 billion from other films, including two entirely original blockbuster releases.
That’s not meant to diminish the incredible accomplishments of the other filmmakers, by any means. Yates’ four-film five-year $4.17 billion figure is undeniably amazing; Michael Bay is one of the hardest working and most talented visual storytellers in action filmmaking; and Peter Jackson’s overall $6.4 billion from 2001 through 2014 makes him by far the king of the box office in the 21st Century (even combining James Cameron’s entire cinematic output from the first Terminator film in 1984 through Avatar in 2012, Cameron’s lifetime total box office is $6.2 billion, still less than Jackson made in just the previous 14 years).
To bring us back to the main point, then, Christopher Nolan now consistently performs on par with the very top-grossing filmmakers in the world, and all nine of his films have been critically successful — most of them widely acclaimed. He is exactly the sort of director you want to fill one of the biggest release dates on the summer box office calendar, in other words.
And he’s the sort you trust to develop terrific, popular original content… or to to helm a major tentpole franchise launch. Like Akira, for example, which Warner previously considered offering to Jonathan Nolan for a rewrite before (apparently) Marco Ramirez took on writing duties (Ramirez wrote two episodes of the phenomenal Daredevil series on Netflix, and the second episode of the also-excellent new TV show Fear the Walking Dead). That project is now moving forward, but lips are sealed tight about it at the moment, so just maybe we’ll get some good news about this related to Nolan’s project…
It’s also true that the film adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel Live By Night has been delayed, due to director Ben Affleck’s commitment to portraying Batman in multiple upcoming movies (I’ve got more on that for you this weekend, too). It’s possible that scheduling conflicts have led to a passing of directorial duties from Affleck to Nolan, in order to keep the project alive and ensure a 2017 release.
Affleck is so enamored of Lehane’s writing, and already directed a brilliant cinematic version of another Lehane novel — Gone, Baby, Gone, a film that should’ve received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Director — so it’s hard to imagine him relinquishing the director’s chair on Live By Night. It’s also hard to see that project as the sort of major summer blockbuster we’d expect for that release date. On the other hand, if he’d be inclined to turn those duties over to anyone, it just might be Christopher Nolan, whom Affleck has yet to work with on a project. And any doubts Live By Night could be a true summer blockbuster go right out the window when we consider an epic crime story about heists, revolution, and organized crime with Affleck’s screenplay and starring role, and with Nolan in the driver’s seat.
Most people are betting on another original property for Nolan’s mystery movie. And without a doubt, it makes sense in light of the number of original projects he has in the works and his desire to pursue his own ideas after having made so many big franchise blockbusters based on other people’s characters, books, and films. Still, the fact that Interstellar is perceived as somewhat underperforming (the film took $675 million worldwide, a great sum and clearly a blockbuster, but less than the $700-800 million that most were forecasting before its release) plus the same sense of underperformance related to Man of Steel (which Nolan godfathered and helped shape as producer) might lead some to think that the director needs a major hit in the form of a big franchise blockbuster to erase any false sense that he’s anything less than one of the most successful and acclaimed filmmakers of our time.
I think the complaints about underperformance by those films is silly in light of how strong they really performed, but I’m also not unrealistic or blind to the fact perception of performance matters in Hollywood, and that it’s true expectations were certainly much higher for both of those films prior to their releases. So if we step back and judge the situation as we would for most any other filmmaker, there’s a pretty good argument to be made that the smartest move at this point would be for Nolan to take on a big franchise project involving a genre film that particularly appeals to his core fanbase and mainstream audiences — which makes Akira a potentially perfect project for him right now.
Whatever film Christopher Nolan ends up making, there’s little doubt it’ll be another hit for him and for Warner Bros. I’d personally rather see him continue pursuing great original projects like Following, Memento, Inception, and Interstellar, but if he does take on an existing property and can deliver the way he did with his Batman films, The Prestige, and Insomnia, then I’m certainly not going to complain. But if I were a betting man, today I’d be very tempted to put my money on Akira, and there’s good reason to think it’s where Warner and Nolan could be putting their money as well.
All box office figures and tallies based on data via Box Office Mojo and TheNumbers.
Chris Agar wrote:Speaking with Yahoo Movies UK, Miller said he was open to helming Akira, but had to move on due to a full schedule:“There was talk of it [the live action ‘Akira’]. But I’ve got so many things on my dance card, I don’t have the time to do everything.”
Also of interest to many cinephiles will be what Miller chooses to direct next. He may not be ready to dive into the universe of DC Comics just yet, but there’s a prevailing hope among fans that he has a change of heart down the line. Miller addressed the swirling speculation about him making Man of Steel 2, telling Yahoo Movies UK that he is “definitely interested” in taking that project on due to the rich mythology that comes with the characters:“I’ve always been interested in mythology. And I think the superhero myth and the superhero stories are basically Greek and Roman mythology revisited in the modern day, so that’s always very interesting. Those things are always in the mix.”
Megan Peters wrote:Earlier today, reports surfaced that Warner Bros. is ready to actively begin pursuing an Akira film. Jeff Sneider from Meet The Press recently told fans that his sources have told him the studio is circling two directors at the moment. Daniel Espinosa (Life) and David Sandberd (Lights Out) are reportedly being courted by Warner Bros. for the job.
Jeff Sneider wrote:On last week’s Meet the Movie Press, I passed along a rumor that Daniel Espinosa and David F. Sandberg were in the running to direct the live-action AKIRA movie for Warner Bros. but here on the ground at CinemaCon that discussion has shifted, with insiders saying the studio is moving aggressively to lock in Jordan Peele to direct coming off the mega-success of Get Out.
Warner Bros. has been enamored with Peele ever since Get Out opened to big business and sparked a cultural conversation. At one point, I thought the studio was going to ask him to direct THE FLASH. Who knows? They still could! But I’m told Akira is the WB project they’re currently discussing with Peele, and the talks have apparently been encouraging.
Representatives for Warner Bros. and Peele did not immediately respond to an after-hours request for comment.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way is producing Akira with Andrew Lazar (American Sniper). Marco Ramirez (Netflix’s Daredevil) wrote the most recent draft of the script, though it’s expected that Peele would do his own pass should he close a deal.
Warner Bros. has struggled for years to gets its live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s classic manga off the ground, and the property has languished in development to fans’ dismay. The film nearly went into production several years ago with Jaume Collet-Serra directing Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart, but the plug was pulled at the last minute.
Now I know what you’re thinking. I’ve cried wolf before about Akira. In addition to Espinosa (whose Life just underperformed) and Sandberg (who ended up getting the bigger Shazam gig), I’ve said that Justin Lin was being sought to direct at one point. But all of those names were floated on the podcast, never published. Our sourcing is solid on this one, but of course, I’m not at the negotiating table, and The Flash remains a tantalizing, not to mention even higher-profile possibility.
So, what would a deal with Peele mean for Akira? Well for starters, he would be an exciting coup for a project that has unfortunately developed a reputation as being “troubled.” At the time, many blogs were upset about casting Hedlund and Stewart as traditionally Asian leads — the same issues that have plagued Paramount’s upcoming Ghost in the Shell. But Peele deftly navigated racial themes in Get Out, and it’s that very sensitivity that could make him the perfect director for the job.
Peele’s directorial debut Get Out has grossed more than $150 million on a reported budget of less than $5 million. Insiders say he’s refreshingly unpredictable and could always decide to stick with making socially-conscious genre films that give him more creative freedom for the time being, but the feeling within the industry is he’s ready to make the big-budget leap now.
Peele, who will be in Las Vegas on Thursday to accept CinemaCon’s Director of the Year Award, is represented by CAA, Principato-Young Entertainment and attorney Jared Levine.
Pamela McClintock wrote:So are you getting offers to direct?
There is a feeling of opportunity that is truly amazing. I've been in Hollywood for 14 years — 14 years of closed doors and the grind. So to feel the energy coming from inside the industry, let alone from the country, is just one of the best feelings. Luckily I have reps who can help me sift through all of the opportunities. But I really want to continue to nurture my own voice. I love writing, so I'm not in any rush. I am a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino, who takes time to figure out what his next movie is.
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