Jordan Peele is just coming off the rousing critical and financial success of his feature directorial debut, Get Out, which has so far made over $150 million on a $4.5 million budget. Naturally, fans are already asking about his next film and if he will stay in the horror/thriller genre or experiment with another one. The director has previously expressed a desire to do more horror movies addressing social issues, but it seems Hollywood has other plans for him. According to The Tracking Board, Peele is currently engaged in talks with Warner Bros. to possibly direct their troubled Akira adaptation, which they’ve been attempting to get off the ground since 2002 when they originally acquired the rights.
According to word on the floor at CinemaCon yesterday, Peele’s talks with the studio have apparently been “encouraging.” Recently, Daniel Espinosa (Life, Safe House) and David F. Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation, Lights Out) were rumored to be in the running, adding to a long list of previous directors attached to this project including Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli, From Hell), Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows, Run All Night), George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Road Warrior), Stephen Norrington (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Blade) and Justin Lin (Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6). The project has also gone through a slew of different screenwriters, including Gary Whitta (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, After Earth), editor Dante Harper, Steve Kloves (The Amazing Spider-Man, the Harry Potter series), and Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby (The Expanse, Iron Man). The current writer is producer Marco Ramirez, who was a showrunner on Marvel & Netflix’s Daredevil. Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way is producing along with Andrew Lazar (American Sniper, Jonah Hex).
Get Out made me a bigger fan of Peele than I already was, and while it’s easy to get excited at the prospect of him directing this, taking a closer look makes me worried for a couple of reasons. For starters, “Westernized” (aka whitewashing) films have not fared very well at the box office, made evident by the early reviews for DreamWorks and Paramount’s Ghost in the Shell, which are not very favorable. Recent films such as The Great Wall, Doctor Strange, Aloha, Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Lone Ranger and Gods of Egypt have all faced similar accusations, resulting in all of them failing at the box office, save for Strange. Initial casting for Akira consisted of Gary Oldman, Helena Bonham Carter, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart, which made fans fear that we were going to recieve yet another Japanese media adaptation recast with white actors. Netflix’s upcoming Death Note film seems to be continuing the trend, but it at least has the benefit of horror maestro Adam Wingard at the helm. Hopefully, the studio is paying attention and actually attempts to faithfully adapt the manga.
Second, while Peele has proved that he could succeed in a genre he wasn’t professionally associated with, I feel jumping from that to something like Akira so soon would be a mistake. Get Out was a solid freshman effort, but it wasn’t perfect. I think another film or two in the action genre will properly prepare him to take on a project like this successfully. I’d hate for him to end up like M. Night Shyamalan and fall off after his first couple of films due to critic and media scrutiny.
There’s a reason why Warners hasn’t been able to pull the trigger on this film yet, and I believe the issue lies on their approach. Appian Way and Lazar have been onboard nearly every step of the way through the film’s troubled development, which maybe means the studio needs to bring in some new blood and start from scratch.
Source: The Tracking Board