The Tracking Board reports that Jordan Peele is allegedly the frontrunner in talks with Warner Bros. to direct a live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 anime film, Akira (and likely the manga series, also by Otomo, on which that film was based). Like Ghost in the Shell, Akira is a member of the cyberpunk canon. Unlike Ghost in the Shell, if Peele were to direct it, given his own meticulous approach to racial dynamics in his work, it presumably wouldn’t star Scarlett Johansson. The report comes from apparent insider sources at CinemaCon — where Peele is receiving the Director of the Year award for Get Out — “saying the studio is moving aggressively” to get Peele onboard.
This may seem like odd news given an interview Peele recently did with the Hollywood Reporter. There, he’d alluded to the many offers he’s getting, but also seemed to emphasize being most interested in working on projects he’s also written — particularly, on continuing to make social thrillers. The Akira script, based on the original film about a bike gang leader — who weeds through layers of government corruption and unethical science in post-WWIII Tokyo to save his friend — has been through numerous drafts. (The latest was penned by Daredevil‘s Marco Ramirez.) But the Tracking Board notes that if the deal closes, “it’s expected that Peele would do his own pass” — so it might not actually be diverging from his stated desires as a filmmaker.
And this should all be taken with a grain of salt; less than a week ago, it was being rumored that Life director Daniel Espinoza and Lights Out director David Sandberg were the frontrunners. This is after this whole thing has been in and out of development for about 15 years. (Warner Bros got the rights in 2002.) And a few years ago, Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan, The Shallows) had signed on to direct; there were reports that Kristen Stewart had been offered the role of Ky Reed, and Garrett Hedlung would have played Kaneda. (Again, one would really hope they’d cast less cluelessly now.)