Hollywood history is filled with stories of unmade films from elite directors. From Quentin Tarantino’s “Luke Cage” to David Fincher’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” it’s always fun to speculate about how great artists would have handled famous IP.
One of the most intriguing unmade projects in recent years is Jordan Peele’s “Akira.” After the success of “Get Out,” Warner Bros. approached Peele to direct a live action remake of Katsuhiro Otomo’s anime, and Peele seriously considered the project. While he ultimately declined the offer and made “Us,” the idea of him bringing Neo-Tokyo to life with his unique visual style will live on as a what-if in the minds of many cinephiles.
In a recent appearance on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Peele reflected on his “Akira” remake that never was. While he still remains a fan of the source material, he has no regrets about how the process played out. Peele explained that thinking about a potential new take on “Akira” led him down a path to developing more original projects like “Us” and “Nope.”
“It’s a project I’m so passionate about,” Peele said of “Akira.” “I’m glad I didn’t do it because I feel like…staying away from that, trying to interpret that IP just set me on the path to create something new. But I want to see Neo-Tokyo. I want to see an all-Japanese cast. I want to feel immersed in the world, the way of the films in the manga.”
Peele’s thoughts echo similar comments he has made since turning down the project. He has always been open about the fact that his desire to prioritize original films and television projects ultimately outweighed his love for the anime.
“I think [I could do it] if the story justifies it,” he said in 2017. “‘Akira’ is one of my favorite movies, and I think obviously the story justifies as big a budget as you can possibly dream of. But the real question for me is: Do I want to do pre-existing material, or do I want to do original content? At the end of the day, I want to do original stuff.”
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