Warner Bros. Pictures’ Akira, which has been through several incarnations, is being shut down in the face of casting and budgetary issues, says THR. The production offices in Vancouver are being closed, with below-the-line talent and crew told to stop working. “Everybody is being sent home,” according to an insider.
Producers, who include Appian Way’s Jennifer Kiloran Davisson and Mad Chance’s Andrew Lazar, will hunker down with director Jaume Collet-Serra for the next two weeks to iron out the script. It is unclear if Harry Potter scribe Steve Kloves, who did a pricey rewrite on the project a year ago, will be brought in to help out.
If the issues cannot be resolved, the project could end up being shelved entirely. More inside. Collet-Serra already had halved the budget from the incarnation that Albert Hughes was going to direct. He now is working on a budget in the $90 million range. But with only Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) signed on to star, and Kristen Stewart, Ken Watanabe and Helena Bonham Carter in various stages of dealmaking, the studio feels that the price tag is still too high for a sci-fi project with that level of star wattage. The goal, say insiders, is to bring the budget down to between $60 million and $70 million.
An adaptation of the classic Japanese manga, Akira is an Americanized story set in a postapocalyptic New Manhattan, where a motorcycle gang leader (Hedlund) must stop his brother and fellow gang member from abusing his newly acquired telekinetic powers.
Akira already has “died” three times only to rise phoenix-like from the ashes. Ruairi Robinson and Hughes were previously deep into the project as directors before dropping off. Collet-Serra got the project green-lighted and has come the closest to going before cameras.
Sources close to the project say Akira isn’t dead yet. “It’s a very resilient movie,” says one insider. “Warner Bros. just won’t let it die.“