Warner Bros.’ ill-fated adaptation of Akira has hit another wall, with Heat Vision reporting a shutdown of the Vancouver production offices in the wake of casting and budgetary issues.
According to the blog, all “below-the-line” talent and crew have been told to stop work while producers spend the next two weeks with director Jaume Collet-Serra hammering out the script and whittling away at the movie’s $90 million budget — down from an estimated $140 million when Albert Hughes was attached. But studio executives, said to be nervous that Tron: Legacy star Garrett Hedlund is the only actor signed on to the project, would like that figure in the $60 million to $70 million range.
The live-action film, based on Katsuhiro Otomo’s pioneering cyberpunk manga and anime, has had a long, difficult road, going through two directors, one co-financier and at least five screenwriters since Warner Bros. acquired the rights in 2008. The studio finally greenlit Akira in October, but has had a tough time nailing down a cast; Kristen Stewart, Ken Wattanabe and Helena Bonham Carter are in negotiations, but only Hedlund has inked a deal.
The U.S. version transplants the manga’s story from post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo to Neo-Manhattan, where bar owner Kaneda (Hedlund) joins with with Ky Reed and her underground movement in his effort to rescue his kidnapped (and secretly telekinetic) brother Tetsuo from government agents led by The Colonel.
Before this latest twist, Akira was set to begin production in late February or early March.