Keanu Reeves Passes On ‘Akira’; Project Still Moving Forward

Published 4 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 8:46 pm,

Fans have generally greeted the news that Warner Bros. is actively developing a live-action adaptation of the cult Japanese comic book-turned animated movie, Akira, with downright hostility. The studio didn’t do itself any favors when it (reportedly) had offered the lead role of streetwise biker Kaneda to Zac Efron last year. Feelings about the project only partially softened when news broke about some high-profile names being approached to take on that lead role – including the most recent candidate, Keanu Reeves.

Reeves, however, has officially passed on the chance to star in Akira, and that decision quickly led to speculation that the expensive sci-fi project was in trouble of slipping off its pre-production track into development limbo.

JoBlo has the scoop on the Akira situation, which Warner Bros. addressed in the following statement:

“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.”

Albert Hughes (Book of Eli) is attached to direct the Akira adaptation, with Leonardo DiCaprio set to serve as producer on the (tentatively) $140 million-budgeted project. Given that high price tag, it’s no wonder the studio heads want an A-lister like Reeves to headline the film.

Akira may be based on an acclaimed graphic novel series with a strong cult following, but that particular combination of factors alone doesn’t guarantee that box office returns will be large enough to cover all of the studio’s expenditures (see Watchmen for proof of that).

Keanu Reeves passes on the Akira live action movie Keanu Reeves Passes On Akira; Project Still Moving Forward

Harry Potter franchise screenwriter Steve Kloves is currently plugging away at the Akira script, in an attempt to lower the budget and get the project back onto the fast track – to actually starting production. It seems that Kloves has also reworked the age of the Kaneda character, which explains why older types like Reeves and Brad Pitt were approached to star – as were actors in their 30s, like James Franco and Ryan Gosling (all of these gentlemen have since passed on the opportunity).

Among the big names previously shortlisted (and theoretically, still in contention) for the two main roles in Akira are the likes of Star Trek‘s Chris Pine, X-Men: First Class leads James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, and Garrett Hedlund (TRON: Legacy). There are other candidates in the running, but those stand out as the best of the lot – though, Gosling still sounds like (arguably) the most appealing choice for the part of Kaneda, out of all the names mentioned so far.

Akira fans still have some big complaints about the live-action adaptation – including, how it will apparently Americanize the story (in terms of setting and characters) to the point that the social commentary of the original Japanese comic/movie will have been lost in translation. So the expensive cost likely isn’t the only thing giving Warner Bros. reason to move ahead slowly with this project.

Look to hear more about Akira in the near future.

Source: JoBlo

TAGS: Akira
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  1. Darn and I thought we were going to get away Keanu free on the Bebop adaptation. Warner must have paid a sweet price for this dog of an idea for them to keep hammering on it so hard. Has anybody bothered to explain this story to the suits up there? Maybe I should seriously consider pulling investment dollars from this outfit. They’re starting to make me nervous…

  2. There already is an Akira movie and it is fine the way it is. Leave it be. Quit insulting us with these half-baked ideas.

  3. Let’s re-do a Japanese anime movie about teen bikers in Japan with 30-40 year-old White actors, in New York. Wow, the two places most bankrupt of common sense and ideas have to be Hollywood and Wall Street.

    • Totally agree with you. But if you think this is bad wait until you get a load of Green Lantern.

      • And what’s both amusing and frustrating about this type of ridiculous casting is that New York is one of the most diverse states in America, if not perhaps the world and yet still they want to whitewash the casting.
        I mean, if they really want to go white with “Akira,” they should change the movie’s name to “Alan” and set it in Wyoming, Kansas or Utah or thereabouts.

        • Yeah well I live in New York and the way they are pricing people out of the city maybe these movies visions of things will come true. But that is a rant not meant for here.

          As for the movie itself, considering the theme if they were to just do the movie and cast people of the right age, who can perform the material regardless of race or nationality it would be more well received by a larger audience and not seem like the usual Hollywood remake cast with the usual pool of Hollywood types.

  4. Ha wat i say..
    i knew they wanted to make the characters older..
    for older, more professional actors. having so much $$$
    on a big project & having sum young amateur actor being the
    lead role is a big risk
    specialy the pressure he’d be getting.
    i like chris pine but isnt the character asian?
    joseph gordon-levitt would b great for the younger version.

  5. Thank the Lord. Now, if only this project will just die already.

  6. Someone needs to go over to WB and turn that green light OFF!

    This movie has bad written all over it and Reeves is smart enough to know it so why isn’t WB?

    • When it comes to those Warner Bros. execs, I think the lights are on but no one’s home.

  7. Please leave Japanese great pieces of art alone, its bad enough when America gets a hold of it and warps it into something ugly and leave out all the good parts. I am personally glad that K.R passed on it, it is a sign of respect to Japanese art in my option.

    • Yeah when wood is outsmarting you it’s time to sober up and layoff the all night interoffice poker tournements…

  8. I will not pay to see this.

  9. This is a good thing. If Andrew Garfield wasn’t too busy with Spider-Man he would’ve been great for this.

  10. To hell with all those potential actors they have in the running. Akira features JAPANESE characters NOT US. I’m still disgusted with the americanizing of this. I am now convinced these morons simply have never read the manga or seen the movie fully. They want to rush this into production because all they see and care about is possibly making quick $$$. But that’s every studio these days.

  11. Good!

  12. I went back and finishe watching Akira after reading this article and I gotta say I hope they can’t find anyone to fill the void because these awesome animes should be left just as they are especially after fox abattoir butchered dragon ball

  13. I agree with everyone here, there is already a movie, it’s fantastic and wonderful and it does NOT need a remake and it most certainly does not need to be whitewashed. How abominable.

    Hollywood can’t create interesting stories on their own anymore, so they just beg, borrow and steal.

  14. Just to play devils advocate. If this were an American cartoon set in New York about New York gangs and the Japanese decided to do a live action version of it. Would you expect them to get all Caucasian actors and keep it set in New York? I think that would be an unrealistic expectation for a Japanese production so why is it not the same for an American production?

    The bottom line is this. An all Japanese cast with a Japan setting wouldn’t draw a big enough audience in this country just as an all Caucasian cast set in New York would not draw a big enough audience in japan.

    So why would you expect them to ensure their movies failure by doing that?

  15. Hollywood can do good adaptions from Asian movies- Magnificent Seven, Star Wars Ep.4, & Departed. All depends on the director, cast, and script. You never know “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was a hit here with an all Asian cast.

  16. Hollywood can do good adaptions from Asian movies- Magnificent Seven, Star Wars Ep.4, & Departed. All depends on the director, cast, and script. You never know Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a hit here with an all Asian cast.

  17. It would take an inspired script to take the heart of “Akira” and make it American. It has an Asian heart you see. Perhaps the smart thing to do is to adapt it and write off using the high profile title for the sake of money and make the money the old fashioned way by earning it. A compelling script with the Akira premise could be done why not explore those paths and see if it doesn’t lead to the success of a “Twelve Monkeys” or “Magnificent Seven” or a half dozen other successful adaptations…