While the closing of the Vancouver production office clearly doesn’t bode well for Akira, the live-action adaptation still shows signs of life as Warner Bros. reportedly searches for a high-end writer to polish a script that’s already passed through more than a half-dozen sets of hands.
According to Variety, executives are eyeing Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises) and Michael Green (Green Lantern) to take a pass, focusing specifically on the character elements and the film’s look. And it’s David James Kelly’s most recent draft, more so than the $90 million budget — already slashed from the $140 million to $150 million range — that troubles the increasingly money-conscious Warner Bros., Deadline contends.
Once the screenplay is fixed, the studio will decide how, or if, to move forward with a pricey movie that still only has Tron: Legacy star Garrett Hedlund locked into a role. Kristen Stewart, Ken Wattanabe and Helena Bonham Carter are still in negotiations to join the cast.
That, of course, brings up another apparent problem: Deadline reports the test option deals with Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire) and Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) lapsed Thursday, leaving Akira still without an actor to play the pivotal role of Tetsuo.
Based on Katsuhiro Otomo’s pioneering cyberpunk manga and anime, Akira has struck numerous roadblocks since Warner Bros. acquired the rights in 2008, losing directors Ruairi Robinson and Albert Hughes before Jaume Collet-Serra signed on in July.