Warner Closes Akira’s Production Office


20100210 akira 560x375 Warner Closes Akiras Production Office

Oh oh.  Could it be? And it seemed like the live-action Akira was full steam ahead, what with Garrett Hedlund scoring the part of Kaneda and Kristen Stewart being offered the role of Kai, not to mention additional offers being extended to Ken Watanabe and Helena Bonham Carter to co-star.  But then it seemed something was wrong when Warner had announced the contenders for the Tetsuo role and said they’d be making a decision before Thanksgiving then all we heard was crickets coming from them all through December. Now comes news that they’ve closed down their production office in Vancouver and told the cast and crew to stop working.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, casting, script and budgeting problems are hindering the project, much to the delight, I’m sure, of George Takei (Sulu from the original Star Trek) who had started a petition demanding that they cast only Asians in the film.  The producers and director Jaume Collet-Serra will be revising the script in the next couple of weeks.  As of now, the budget for the film is in the $90 million range which is half of what the previous director Albert Hughes was going to work with. While it isn’t a lot by big-budget action movie standards, it still seems pretty pricey considering who’s starring.  Garrett Hedlund’s okay and all, I thought he was decent in Tron: Legacy, but he didn’t exactly blow me away.

Deadline reports that two of the contenders for Tetsuo, Boardwalk Empire‘s Michael Pitt among them, are now free to accept other offers as the deadline for Warner’s test option deals with the actors has passed.  Although I hardly think either one of them would turn the role down if it were offered in the near future.  I mean really, who would do such a thing?

It makes sense, though, that they would have problems with the script considering all the changes they’re trying to make.  Changing the setting alone from Neo-Tokyo to “New Manhattan” would cause a backlash of revisions which should be considered very carefully if they want viewers to buy into this, not to mention changing Kaneda from a biker gang leader to the owner of a bar.

Any adaptation of a much loved work like Akira will have this sort of controversy surrounding it. I’ve always liked Warner Brothers.  Some of my favorite films have come out of their studio.  I’m glad at least to see they’re trying to make sure it’s right first instead of just throwing whatever at us and expecting it to stick.

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