A few weeks ago he was known mostly as the Key & Peele guy, but now Get Out director Jordan Peele is a hot commodity in Hollywood after his tiny $4.5 million dollar horror movie has grossed over $156 million worldwide and counting. The Tracking Board is now reporting that Warner Bros. Pictures. is actively courting Peele to take on their long-in-development adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Japanese manga Akira.
The last movement on the Akira movie happened in 2015 when Marco J. Ramirez, writer and co-showrunner of Marvel’s Daredevil Season 2, was attached to pen the script. The article points out that both Daniel Espinosa (Life) and David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) were also in the running to direct before Peele set the world on fire with Get Out, a hot button socio political horror movie dealing with race in America. Whether that racial sensitivity could help him navigate whitewashing controversies that have plagued Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell is a talking point, as current thinking dictates that any studio movie with a price tag in the $100 million+ arena has to have American stars. With its roots deeply in Japanese culture (the story takes place in “Neo-Tokyo”), it could take a filmmaker with the boldness of Peele to keep the main cast Japanese, or at least deal with the casting in a more sensitive way. However, with Ghost in the Shell tracking to open soft this weekend with an estimated $25 million (behind Boss Baby), Warners could get cold feet altogether on the Akira project.
The article speculates that Peele could also be in the running (pun intended) for The Flash, the biggest open assignment at the studio since Dope director Rick Famuyiwa flew the coop. With Akira‘s more cerebral nature and social commentary, it might be a better opportunity for Peele to flex his creative muscles than a DC superhero movie.
The movie adaptation has carried this synopsis for years: Set in a future city environment called New Manhattan, the sci-fi epic follows the leader of a bike gang who must save his best friend, who has been experimented on by the government causing him to develop dangerous and destructive psychokinetic powers.
Andrew Lazar (American Sniper) and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way are producing the film, for which the studio acquired the rights back in 2008. It’s had plenty of talent attached before. The closest it came to being made was in 2012, when Jaume Collet-Serra was to direct Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Ken Watanabe and Helena Bonham Carter.