Warner Bros. Greenlights ‘Akira’, Makes “Smarter” Casting Decision

Akira

Warner Bros. has finally greenlit its live-action remake of the anime cult hit Akira for a late February/early March start, sources tell Variety.

In July, Warners tapped Spanish helmer Jaume Collet-Serra (House of Wax, Orphan, Unknown) to direct at a budget of $90 million, which was brought down from an initial figure of well more than $100 million.

Listening to fan outcry when the the studio had talked about casting the likes of Keanu Reeves, they’ve now turned their attention towards Tron: Legacy star Garrett Hedlund (pictured inside), who’s considered a front-runner. Though no offer’s been made, insiders say it’s only a matter of time.

And with that, we can all celebrate! Set in New Manhattan, the cyberpunk sci-fi epic follows the leader of a biker gang who must save his friend, discovered with potentially destructive psychokinetic abilities, from government medical experiments.

WB acquired the potential tentpole project for a seven-figure sum from Japanese manga publisher Kodansha in 2008. Katsuhiro Otomo, who wrote and directed the 1988 Japanese anime pic of the same name, will exec produce Akira.

Akira, long in development at the studio, has hit several speedbumps over the last several months, including Albert Hughes falling off as director. Collet-Serra was brought on quickly, but working out the budget took about two months, with studio execs and creative execs meeting last week before the decision was rendered over the weekend.

Garrett Hedlund