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The Polish Brothers Turned Down The Opportunity To Direct ‘Akira’

The Polish Brothers Turned Down The Opportunity To Direct 'Akira'

One of the most interesting things about Warner Bros.‘ gestating “Akira” is that ever since director Albert Hughes bailed on the film at the end of May, there hasn’t been a word about it. No shortlist of directors, no new names being tossed around for the lead. Nothing. Which is what makes this next morsel of info somewhat compelling.

Buried in an extensive interview and profile with twin brother filmmakers Mark and Michael Polish in The Wrap about their new direct-to-VOD film “For Lovers Only” that is doing some strong business (more on that in moment) is a little tidbit that certainly caught our attention: they were offered the director’s chairs for “Akira.” The duo — best known for their indie filmsNorthfork” and “Twin Falls Idaho” — citing a close relationship with Warner Bros. honcho Jeff Robinov, say that the studio has been tossing a few projects their way for them to consider but they turned down the anime movie because they didn’t want to take on something that massive. It was probably a smart decision because the project is already drawing enough controversy due to the “whitewashed” list of actors being eyed for the film (perhaps in an effort to throw fans a bone, an offer was sent to Keanu Reeves who turned it down). It certainly would have been their most ambitious movie, since to date their biggest film so far has been “The Astronaut Farmer,” and that production was still quite small compared to what would be required for “Akira.” So all this to say, it’s an interesting piece of trivia and if anything it reveals that WB has quietly been looking for replacements.

For now, the duo are focused on promoting their latest effort, the no-budget, black-and-white indie romance “For Lovers Only.” The film, which features “Castle” star Stana Katic, was a guerilla production through and through. Utilizing their own camera and equipment, with no lighting rights or extraneous crew, the trio shot the film on the down low with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, meaning they shot on the sly without anyone noticing. Except for the costs to get there and meals, the movie essentially cost nothing to make and they even got around paying Katic — who shares an agent with the directing duo — by getting the Screen Actors Guild to certify the film as “experimental,” meaning they weren’t compelled to pay the actress who even brought her own wardrobe.

The result? A film inspired by French New Wave and Richard Lester‘s “A Hard Day’s Night” (though Richard Linklater‘s “Before Sunrise” seems an obvious marker too), written by Mark Polish more than decade ago about an American photographer (Mark Polish) who bumps into an old lover (Katic) while on assignment in Paris. The film follows them through a series of vignettes as we learn about the ups and downs of their relationship as they go over old history. Thanks to nothing more than a Twitter push by Katic, the film quickly gained steam and enough pre-orders that iTunes made the film available a day earlier than its planned Tuesday release this week. It has already made $200,000 on iTunes alone, ranking number two and number four on the romance and independent film rankings at the store. Not too bad. With all that success you might think a theatrical bow might be in the offing, but aside from a couple of potential one-offs, the plan is to stick to the digital-only release.

So, where do the Polish brothers go from here? Well, that “Oz” project that cropped up last year is dead thanks to MGM‘s demise. They’ve got a project called “Clown” set up with producers Escape Artist and they say they are in constant talks with studios about various gigs. What isn’t known still, is the status of their two completed films–“The Smell of Success” with Billy Bob Thornton and Ed Helms (aka “Manure“) and “Stay Cool” with Winona Ryder, Hilary Duff and Chevy Chase. A quick peek at IMDb reveals director Michael Polish has seemingly taken his name off both films with both movies now being credited to Larry Smith and Ted Smith, respectively. Hmm…

Whatever the problem with those films, it hasn’t slowed them down. On a final note, this spring Michael Polish went solo on another film, an adaptation of Jack Kerouac‘s “Big Sur” starring Jean-Marc Barr, Anthony Edwards, Radha Mitchell, Balthazar Getty, Henry Thomas and Stana Katic. The film is now in post and we presume it will arrive on the festival circuit next year. For now, check out “For Lovers Only” on iTunes. The trailer and a clip from the film are below.

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