The long-in-the-making live-action adaptation of the Japanese manga and legendary anime film, Akira just can't seem to get a break.
In the latest of a long series of setbacks and delays, it is being reported that Warner Bros has shut down the film's production offices in Vancouver, sending several employees home. -- At least, for now.
It's a surprising move, considering that the narrative in the last bit of significant news we heard about the film said that it was already greenlit, ready to film in March, and was closing in on Garrett Hedlund of Tron: Legacy to star as main character, Kaneda. He was to be joined by a supporting cast with names like Kristen Stewart, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Ken Watanabe. (Replacing the initially-sought Gary Oldman.)
So, what happened?
The issue appears to be with the film's projected budget, which was already sliced significantly from $150 million to $90 million when new director, Jaume Collet-Serra was brought in to replace Albert Hughes.
Helmer, Collet-Serra will reportedly take the film's current hiatus to sit down with the joint production's producers like Jennifer Kiloran Davisson of Apian Way and Andrew Lazar of Mad Chance to make more tweaks to the script, which was re-written by Harry Potter scribe, Steve Kloves last year.
Additionally, the studio has dropped the test options with actors, Dane DeHaan and Michael Pitt, who were apparently the finalists up for the role of main antagonist, Tetsuo. This could be taken as a sign that if the production were to ever resume, it could be re-cast from scratch, especially if it is transformed after the aforementioned tinkering.
Studios are seemingly getting the penny-pinching itch due to the state of the economy. Thus, the aim is likely to see if it is logistically possible to slice even more from the film's budget to a safer range of $60 million to $70 million.
So, Akira is once again down, but not completely out. The question remains whether for the sake of art, if that's a good thing or not.