In news that will likely please a large portion of the WhatCulture! audience, Warner Bros has shut down the Vancouver production offices for the highly controversial live-action remake of the anime cult favourite Akira. The Hollywood Reporter cite the failures in locking down a cast which still only had Garrett Hedlund as the confirmed lead but with high-profile names in Brad Pitt, Kristen Stewart, Gary Oldman, Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, James McAvoy and many, many more spoken to but no contracts signed, and issues over the budget for the lock down. The movie, which has been hit with problems since day one, now looks doomed. Everybody is being sent home, said an insider with the director, producer (and maybe the script writer) set to lock themselves in a room with the screenplay to see if they can reduce the budget by $20-30 million and iron out the story problems. Derived by fans because of its approach, Warner Bros's adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomos manga changed the setting from the futuristic Neo-Tokyo to a rebuilt New Manhatten with the idea of Hollywoodising and watering down the themes and turning it into a PG-13 rated fare aimed at American audiences. Steve Kloves, writer of the last seven Harry Potter movies and also of the planned adaptation of Stephen Kings epic The Stand, wrote the last draft of the screenplay. The problems for Akira started when original director Albert Hughes (one half of The Hughes Brothers behind From Hell and The Book of Eli) bailed on the project after an issue over casting that led him to falling out with Warner Bros. president Jeff Robinov. At that point the budget was an incredible $200 million. Hughes was replaced by Jaume Collet-Serra, a hot rising director of Orphan and Unknown and given a much scaled back budget over about half that (around $90 million) but he and WB were never able to nail down a cast. The word is they came close to Kristen Stewart, Helena Bonham Carter and Ken Watanabe and negotiations with the trio had started but then WB wanted to cut back on the budget back to $60-70 million because they weren't convinced that was a cast that would guarantee their money back. The issue seems to be Stewart is an unknown quantity in blockbusters outside of the Twilight saga. Shooting was set to begin in the next few months but that ain't happening now and unless something changes the film won't shoot at all. Warner Bros. denied to comment but The Hollywood Reporter end their piece with;
Sources close to the project say Akira isn't dead yet. Its a very resilient movie, says one insider. Warner Bros. just wont let it die.