In what is surely to be great news for those moviegoers who hate the recent overflow of reboots and remakes, it seems as though Warner Bros.’ big-budget Americanized version of Akira has hit a wall. Production on the film has reportedly been shut down, the crew sent home, and the production offices in Vancouver have closed their doors.
The issue? Too big a budget for such a big gamble.
Again, fans of the classic Akira anime film and manga source material are going to see this as a no-brainer; the disdain for this project has been palpable ever since it was resurrected from limbo back in 2009; recent news like Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra taking the helm, or TRON Legacy star Garrett Hedlund taking on the leading role of Kaneda, did little to sway naysayers.
THR reports that Leonardo DiCpario’s Appian Way production partner Jennifer Kiloran Davisson and producer Andrew Lazar will be working with Collet-Serra to slash the budget, which sits at $90 million – half of what it was when Book of Eli director Albert Hughes was still directing. With only mid-level stars like Kristen Stewart and Ken Watanabe circling the film, Warner Bros. apparently feels more comfortable with a budget in the $60 million range, according to insiders.
The rub, of course, is that a story like Akira - set in a turmoil-ridden futuristic city filled with biker gangs, military factions, and an experiment in psychic abilities resulting in a rampage of mass destruction – is not the kind of spectacle-driven film that you can just make on the cheap; the effects work alone would cost what WB is hoping to top the budget out at. No word on whether Harry Potter scribe Steve Kloves will be brought his script draft into something more fiscally feasible; but if you re-arrange the story (which has already been “tweaked”) to further degree, is it even “Akira” anymore?
Much to the chagrin of fans of the Japanese version, these latest setbacks are not yet a death-knell for this film; said one insider: “It’s a very resilient movie. Warner Bros. just won’t let it die.”
As always, we’ll keep you updated on the status of Akira as more information comes to light.
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