Even though he has a strong relationship with Warner Bros. by way of the The Matrix franchise, Keanu Reeves has officially passed on the role of Kaneda in the live-action Akira film, based on the 1988 landmark anime and six-volume manga, reports JoBlo.
The project has been in development hell for years and has had numerous big names circling it – James Franco, Brad Pitt, Joseph Gordon-Levitt to name a few – but none have ultimately signed on to the Albert Hughes helmed sci-fi flick, whose budget has swelled to an estimated $140 million. WB must’ve really been saddened by Keanu passing on the role, because they shut down the pre-viz department and let go most of the staff working on the film afterwards.
They still claim to be in the adaptation business, saying “Production on ‘Akira’ has not halted or been shut down, as the film has not yet been greenlit and is still very much in the development stage. The exploratory process is crucial to a project of this magnitude, and we will continue to sculpt our approach to making the best possible film.”
Regardless of the spin the studio will try to put on this, the facts are these: With word of even more possible rewrites to lower the budget (which soared much higher than WB expected), Akira is going to limp to its death unless an outside studio steps in to co-produce or an A-list actor jumps on board – and fast. They can tinker all they want, but Akira is huge in scope. Unless WB decides to visually represent the physical manifestation of Akira as a storm cloud (I’m looking at you, Rise Of The Silver Surfer) and film it in suburbia, I can’t imagine the film costing less than $100 million.
Woah, in the future I have a career!