Looks like we might not get that “New Manhattan” live-action version of AKIRA after all. I know you’re all crying. Maybe Warner Bros. knows that too, as they shut down the Vancouver production office:
The project, which has been through several incarnations, is being shut down in the face of casting, script and budget issues. The production offices in Vancouver are being closed, with below-the-line talent and crew told to stop working. “Everybody is being sent home,” according to an insider.
Producers, who include Appian Way’s Jennifer Kiloran Davisson and Mad Chance’s Andrew Lazar, will hunker down with director Jaume Collet-Serra for the next two weeks to iron out the script. It is unclear if Harry Potter scribe Steve Kloves, who did a pricey rewrite on the project a year ago, will be brought in to help out.
But all is not lost, Deadline reports.
What’s the problem? Akira sounds not a lot different than what has happened at the studio to the films Arthur & Lancelot and Legendary Pictures’ big-budget film Paradise Lost. I’ve even heard turbulence on the 300 prequel Xerxes. Basically, the studio is scrutinizing everything. Akira, which was bought years ago and put on a fast track when Albert Hughes was going to direct it. While reports indicate Warner Bros has problems with budget, I’m told that’s not really the issue. The studio suddenly wanted changes made to the script, the most recent draft of which came from David James Kelly. They will quickly set a high-end writer to do a polish and then Warner Bros will have to a final decision to make. Director Jaume Collet-Serra’s version already came down from $150 million that Hughes planned to spent to about $90 million, so this is more about creative than budget, or it could be that the studio is getting cold feet about making a pricey movie with a young cast and not huge stars.
So maybe a budget trim would get this back on track. Wouldn’t that be great?
Ugh, really this is another one of those comic book ideas — like Watchmen and Superman and Wonder Woman — that Warner just boots around for years and years. Perhaps the best idea is just to let someone who really has a passion for the film make it…if you can’t find that, maybe studio shuffling isn’t the answer. Radical thinking, I know.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.