Albert Hughes Talks About the Live-Action 'Akira' Being PG-13
It was announced in February that brothers Allen and Albert Hughes, who directed The Book of Eli and From Hell before that, had been hired by Warner Bros to direct their upcoming adaptation of the Japanese manga Akira. It took quite a while, but someone finally caught up with Albert Hughes (solo this time) and asked him about Akira and his plans for that project. The quotes come from an interview the Kevin & Josh Movie Show (found via Film School Rejects) had with Albert. He talks briefly about WB's "mandate" to make the movie PG-13 as well as its current status. It's not all good news but it's definitely not all bad news either.
It starts when they ask if he's "going to make Akira [rated] R, right?" His answer: "You would think… The first thing they said to me is that its got to be PG-13. I said, okay well I'll look at that as a challenge or a hindrance." That means instead of complaining, he's going to figure out where the boundaries are with the rating system so they can be edgy and still be PG-13. Hughes references The Dark Knight and says there are "subversive things" he can do to make it feel like an rated-R movie. "I like challenges," he adds. "The one thing about Akira, the manga, they've been around a couple of years doing the script… And it's a hard nut to crack because there's so many heavy themes." Which is was hoping that it would've been cracked by now.
As for his approach to it, well, this statement might upset fans: "The trick for me is to simply everything for the audience, because you can't come in with that complexity." That's all he said about its story, but I think he's just saying there's no way he can retain the complex themes of the manga, but will still try and keep the audience interested. The story is still being split in two, as Hughes confirms: "The first movie is going to be a two-part movie anyway." But, oddly, he might only direct the first movie. "Nah, I'm not into sequels, so I don't even know if I'm going to be around for the sequel," he says. "I'm going to focus on the first movie and get that right and they can talk about [that] later… I don't know if I would do [it] though."
Whoa, wait a minute. I understand there's no need to bring him back for a sequel, but if this is supposed to be a two-part movie telling one long story, shouldn't they use the same director for both? As for its status, Hughes says right now it's about "getting the script right" and creating a "look book," which involves tonally setting the way the movie looks and feels, from characters to vehicles. He'll then present that with the next draft of the script, which will be ready in September, then "we'll see where we're at." He doesn't sound too optimistic and I'm not either, but I'm still hoping for the best, because I really don't want to see a bad movie.
Speaking of writers, in a recent interview with producer Andrew Lazar, Collider learned that they've hired a new writer to work on the Akira screenplay - Albert Torres, whose only previously credit is the Luke Wilson indie Henry Poole Is Here, but he's also writing the feature version of the 2005 documentary Murderball. Other than that, we'll be waiting to hear more about Akira, including (hopefully) an update this September.