Hollywood remakes of classic international films and TV series have never really been in favour, with critics of the western movie industry lambasting such films for whitewashing and ruining foreign films. The 2017 remake of the anime Ghost in the Shell became symbolic of this criticism, with Scarlett Johansson starring in the classic Japanese story that is inferior to the animated original in every way.
Despite this, Hollywood continues to adapt foreign cinema to the English language, releasing Downhill in 2020 with Will Ferrell as a poor remake of Ruben Östlund’s modern classic Force Majeure for example. The reason as to why these American reimagining’s keep taking place is likely down to sheer laziness, with the industry more willing to rely on pre-existing properties for box-office revenue than come up with an original idea themselves.
Regardless, Hollywood remakes are coming thick and fast with Leonardo DiCaprio interested in bringing the influential anime Akira to live-action American cinemas for many years now. Almost two decades in the making, the project has passed through several hands, with many producers getting cold feet at the critical and commercial reception of both Ghost in the Shell in 2017 and Alita: Battle Angel in 2019.
So what makes Akira any different? Adapted from his own hit manga series, Katsuhiro Otomo decided to bring the science fiction tale to the big screen in 1988, having a far more significant impact on international cinema than Otomo could have ever realised. Presenting an animated film that was far from the fantastical, childish joys of Disney, this new adult animation became a sensation in US colleges, with bootleg versions of the film being spread among enthusiastic film fans.
Watching the film as a teenager, Leonardo DiCaprio became enamoured by Akira, becoming his favourite anime from a young age. Many years later, this encouraged DiCaprio to pursue a remake for the film back in 2008, with the actor telling MTV at the time: “We’re waiting for the final draft of the script,” even if this never materialised into a finished film over a decade later.
“I’m a big fan of Japanese anime… I know there’s a lot of loyal fans out there of the project and die-hard fans, so we’re going to try to do the best job we possibly can and we’re not going to make the movie until the script is in the right shape,” DiCaprio continued, however, showing that perhaps one day we’ll see an adaptation of the classic animation.
A great lover of animation, Leonardo DiCaprio has previously stated that Princess Mononoke by Hayao Miyazaki is another one of his all-time favourite films, sharing a love of Studio Ghibli with many other animation fans across America. The sixth film of Miyazaki’s glittering career, Princess Mononoke came before the releases of Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo.
Take a look at the trailer for Leonardo DiCaprio’s favourite anime, Akira, below.