Hollywood history is full of stories of unmade films by 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 interesting, unmade projects of recent years is Jordan Peele’s Akira. After the success of “Get Out,” Peele was approached by Warner Bros. to direct a live-action remake of Katsuhiro Otomo’s anime, and Peele seriously considered the project. Although he ultimately turned down the offer and made “Us,” the idea of bringing Neo-Tokyo to life with his unique visual style is a what-if in the minds of many cinephiles.
A recently published Happy Sad Confused podcast, Peele reflected on the “Akira” remake that never was. While he remains a fan of the source material, he has no regrets about how the process went. Peele explained that thinking about the potential new release of “Akira” led to the development of original projects such as “Us” and “Nope”.
“It’s a project that I’m so passionate about,” Peele said of “Akira.” “I’m glad I didn’t because I feel like… staying away from it and trying to make sense of that IP just put 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 immerse myself in the world, in the way of the movies in the manga.”
Peele’s thoughts echo similar comments he’s made since the project was rejected. He has always been open about how his desire to prioritize original film and television projects eventually overrode his love for anime.
“I think (I could) if the story warrants it,” he said in 2017. “’Akira’ is one of my favorite movies and I think obviously the story justifies a budget as big as you can dream of. But the real question for me is: do I want to make existing material or original content? At the end of the day, I want to do original things.”