Even though actors have been cast and early work on the film has started, Warner Bros. pulled the plug in Vancouver yesterday and told nearly everyone working on the live action Akira movie to go home.
Since it was announced a couple of years ago, the production has gone through many headaches including finding the right actors, rewriting the story to take play in New York City, budget issues, and fan backlash over the announcements. Though Warner Bros. hasn’t confirmed or denied that the project is dead, it is unclear at this point when production will begin again.
Collet-Serra already had halved the budget from the incarnation that Albert Hughes was going to direct. He now is working on a budget in the $90 million range. But with only Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) signed on to star, and Kristen Stewart, Ken Watanabe and Helena Bonham Carter in various stages of deal-making, the studio feels that the price tag is still too high for a sci-fi project with that level of star wattage. The goal, says an insider, is to bring the budget down to between $60 million and $70 million. However, another source close to the production says the script, rather than the budget, has skidded the production. The project, this person says, will remain in the $90 million range.
If the budget is the driving force behind the stoppage, then Warner might be best to let this one go, as the special effects in bringing Neo New York to life (and the cast) should push this over the $100 million mark. If it is the story that is causing problems, the writers may want to take a long hard look at the source material and see what worked there.