Akira adaptation may be lost

The American adaptation of Akira, the popular manga and anime, has seen lots of ups and down. Still, this may be the last straw as Warner Bros. gives the producers and director two weeks to make it work.

As you may recall, the project originally had vision on a truly grand scale after Warner Bros. acquired the rights to the classic Japanese graphic novel a few years back for a hefty sum.

The studio planned to put nearly $300m into the production of a two-part film because hey wanted to do it right, and even brought over original author, Katsuhiro Otomo, as the executive producer.

Since then, we’ve seen the budget slashed twice, the casting go from top Hollywoodstars down to b-listactors, and the director, Albert Hughes, simply walk away, to be replaced by mostly unknown Jaume Collet-Serra. Yes, we are looking at a once epic two-part production being pared down to a junker film.

When the studio finally came out with the synopsis, which showed that the story had been changed almost beyond recognition, the fans hardly even cared, as expectations for the film had already fallen so low.

Now, Warner Bros. has decided that they aren’t even interested in the film as a junker. The budget for the film, already cut down to about $90m since Albert Hughes left, is now being cut by a further $30m. $60m is barely enough to make a romantic comedy, much less an action film with lots of special effects, including an entire post-apocalyptic city.

My musing here is that the studio is simply unhappy with the star-power of the film. Only one actor signed on so far is no top-shelf talent, and the biggest actor even in talks to be in the film so far is Kristen Stewart. If the director had been able to secure some of the stars originally being considered for the film, like Keanu Reeves, Justin Timberlake, or Joaquin Phoenix, then they would feel more secure. Of course, those actors backed out of talks just before Hughes walked away. Perhaps Hughes also left because of the lack of star-power the film was attracting (at the time he cited ‘creative differences’, as usual).

The production team, including Collet-Serra, has been given two weeks to rewrite the script, and figure out where to make the film less expensive. Everyone else has been sent home for now, and if the team can’t find a solution the film will have its green-light revoked, and the film’s plans will languish in development hell indefinitely.