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Book of Eli's Albert Hughes: Warner Wants PG-13 Akira (Updated)

posted on by Egan Loo
Director to only do 1st film; project in development with next script in September

Director Albert Hughes (Menace II Society, From Hell, The Book of Eli) told The Kevin and Josh Movie Show in a Friday radio interview that Warner Brothers gave him a "mandate" for a PG-13 rating on the planned live-action films of Katsuhiro Ōtomo's Akira science-fiction manga. According to Hughes:

It's not rated R. That's like something I had to take on when I was talking with the studio. The first thing they said to me is that it gotta be PG-13. And I said, 'Ok, I can look at that as a challenge or a hinderance.' There's something about cinema — old cinema — where I get excited about some subversive things you can do with being held down by something like that or being censored. That I kinda found to be a challenge — how can I make this feel like a rated-R movie. I look towards what [director Christopher] Nolan did with Batman. Tonally, those don't feel like PG-13 movies.

Hughes added that "it's a hard nut to crack because there are so many heavy themes — and there are some goofy stuff going on there too, but…. The trick for me is to simplify everything for the audience because you can't come in with that complexity." He cautioned that he only plans to work on the first of two planned films: "No, I'm not into sequels, so I don't even know if I want to be around for the sequel. I'm more like just focused on the first film and get that right."

Hughes noted that the film is not yet in production. "No, we're more like getting the script right and me going off and doing a 'look' book like I usually do — like I did for The Book of Eli. I did three of them which tonally set the way the movie looks and feels, what the characters look like, what the vehicles look like. That usually takes a month and a half, so I'm going to do that. The next script will probably come in early September, and we'll see where we're at."

Hughes said it is little too early to discuss the cast, but he wants a young actor "with good chops" for the main character and "your Gary Oldman or Morgan Freeman type" for the supporting cast. (Oldman worked with Hughes and his co-directing brother Allen on The Book of Eli.)

Screenwriters Gary Whitta, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby were previously attached to the project, but the development team with producer Andrew Lazar (Jonah Hex, Space Cowboys, Get Smart) hired a new writer named Albert Torres. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, The Aviator) is producing through his Appian Way production company. According to Eiga.com on Wednesday, Hughes told the Sankei Shimbun paper in a phone interview that his next film is Akira, and that he is busy creating the storyboards and plot.

Source: Film School Rejects

Update: According to Eiga.com, Hughes said that he was "captivated" ever since he watched Akira on laserdisc in 1994.

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