Whether you choose to overlook the accusations of whitewashing levied against Paramount’s upcoming Ghost in the Shell movie is entirely up to you, but there are certainly some who are rooting for the film to open doors for other anime projects. Studios aren’t exactly hot-spots for innovative thinking; if Ghost in the Shell bombs next weekend, there will no-doubt be executives at Paramount who claim the only real lesson is that American audiences don’t like Anime. That would be a real blow to fans of the long-gestating adaptation of Akira, the seminal 1988 animated movie by Katsuhiro Otomo that has been an inspiration to countless science fiction movies and television shows that follow.

While Warner Bros. has been slow to show any progress on the film in recent years, it would appear that they’ve identified a few new filmmakers for the latest version of their director shortlist. In a recent episode of Meet the Movie Press (via The Playlist), it was rumored that Warner Bros. is looking specifically at two directors: Daniel Espinosa, whose Life is now in theaters this weekend, and David Sandberg, who already made Warner Bros. a ton of money this past year with his high-concept horror film Lights Out.

As The Playlist notes, the production history for Akira has been pretty spotty. Despite being one of the most influential animated movies of all time, Warner Bros. has struggled to find the right talent and budget for the film, leading to an endless stream of rumored directors (Christopher Nolan! Jaume Collet-Serra!) without any real progress to speak of. If you go digging through our archives, you can actually find a few storyboards from previous attempts at the film and interviews with actors who haven’t been attached to the film for a decade. Until it actually gets made, Akira will be the great white whale for anime fans everywhere.

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