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.


  1. Why would anybody even try to make a live action AKIRA when there’s no chance that it will be as good as the original animated film? Haven’t these studios learned anything from Speed Racer/Last Airbender/Dragonball Evolution?

  2. If this means we won’t be subjected to Garrett Hedlund sleep-mumbling his way through this misguided effort, then I think that’s good news. Don’t they know that Akira is all about SHOUTING?!

  3. I wouldn’t even be interested in an animated remake either, unless Otomo was heavily involved. And even then, I don’t know that it’d be necessary, other than if they did, say, a TV series that covered the entire manga (now that animation as good as the theatrical film can be done on a TV budget).

  4. I wont be shedding any tears for this particular delay. As much as I love the original Akira animation, there’s no way I’ll get behind any live action incarnation unless the rumored whitewashing casting is completely off the table.

  5. being from the second wave anime gen(Pokemon,Shonen Jump,Cowboy Bebop, etc.) Akira was boring film and dull book imo. even if it had the golden cast and crew, no mainstream audience would care for it. 80% of all anime is near impossible to adapt cause to the gen public, they are filled with distinctly Asian tropes and humour that will fly over the heads of most, unless your invested in the culture. some comics like Vagabond and Rouroni Kenshin could pass as period pieces, but not without some americanizing to make it less foreign to the gen public. That said I’m still all for a Revolutionary Girl Utena film.

  6. Serhend, I have to say I disagree with you. Whatever your opinion of the animated film or the original book is, the subject matter could not be more relevant to the current pop culture climate in big, Hollywood movies. Over the top science fiction action and destruction (Transformers, Terminator Salvation, some super hero movies here and there) combined with teenage heroes and villains, their angst and the turmoil of the relationship between Tetsuo, Kineda, and Kei (Twilight, Hunger Games, even Harry Potter to some extent). The type of subject matter in Akira transcends the time and culture that created it, which is why we’re even here talking about a new adaptation being made by people with lots of money.

    If done well (I’m not holding my breath), this could be a big hit with an audience that is unfamiliar with the original source material and simply doesn’t care where it stands in the history of manga, anime, and science fiction in general. There is so much great material to draw from that Otomo came up with after the animated movie was already in the can, a chance to see some of it come alive on the big screen with a talented cast and crew would really be incredible, in my opinion.

    Also, I’m no expert, but I think any second wave of anime fandom came well before Pokemon or Cowboy Bebop. There was a lot of material that was popular in the west well before even Akira hit theaters.

  7. Maclaine, I accept your challenge. Akira was the near the tail-end of first wave fandom(us release in 89) which is defined by the anime fans who got a hold of anime and manga through fansubs and imports, with the some localization(Gathcahman, Macross, etc.). The Second Wave is early 90’s-early 2000’s, which was when CN aired DB and eventually toonami, Pokemon, Sailor Moon, and Samurai Pizza Cats were on UPN, and ADV was founded in 92 and later brought over Evangelion among other series.

    The films you named are based on already established western franchises the everyone knows. akira is reletively unknown and a dated story(like watchmen) that needed to be amercanized cause the plot of a kid with a inferiority complex becoming a god-like psychic is not going offend the bible belt and they like going to the movies than up north. Action and SFX aren’t enough and has produced many more duds than hits recently(Sucker Punch, Salt, The Mechanic, Preist(an korean manhwa), Green Lantern, and Conan).

    The reason it has ever been brought up was not because of the story, it was because there was guarnteed money(fans) in it. it’s the same reason transformers, harry potter, and hunger games was made not to mention the built in ad space of the characters in transformers. the reason it never got off the ground(even now) cause its too hard to adapt as is since no production company will put 100+ million dollars behind a film with and all asian cast. I distincly remember a quote from a producer saying in hollywood if there is more than 4 black(or insert any other minorty) people in the main cast, it’s a Black Film. the last hit Asian film was The Joy Luck Club…have fun trying to sell Akira to a white/jewish Hollywood, lest you add a “immigrant experience” slant to it.

  8. Serhend: Wow, you’re waaaaay off in your understanding of the “waves” of anime fandom.

    First wave: The very first anime arrives in America…Astro Boy, Speed Racer, etc.
    Second wave: The 70s space operas arrive on American TV…Star Blazers, Battle of the Planets/G-Force, etc.
    Third wave: Mid-80s robot anime…Voltron, Robotech, etc., and the creation of fansub culture.
    Fourth wave: The mid-90s VHS revolution and the arrival of female fans thanks to Sailor Moon. One could even argue that the creation of anime-on-VHS as a sustainable business model could be separated from Sailor Moon as the rise of Streamline Pictures (and the creation of several other companies — ADV, US Manga Corps, Manga Video, etc. — preceded SM by a couple years).
    Fifth wave: Pokemon and the like make anime a mainstay of animated programming on basically every channel that shows the stuff.

  9. Your waves 1-3 is first wave and 4 & 5 are second wave, again how am I off? not to mention its was more the early 90’s the VHS revolution began with US Renditions dubs(Gunbuster,Appleseed,etc.) which spurred ADV and co. into the localization craze, also your first wave can’t even be defined as first cause most of the fans of those shows were totally unaware that Astro and co. were even japanese and it was not until those were re released as tapes and fansubs that animefans were aware of anime. were on the same page, i dont get the hostility.

  10. Well, a wave is something with a rise, a crest, and a rest/lull in between, so grouping everything from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s doesn’t make much sense, as those eras were separated by lengthy periods of little to no anime availability at all and appealed to entirely separate audiences…as a 6-year-old watching Voltron every day, I certainly knew nothing about Star Blazers other than that my brothers had watched it before I was born.

    As for my wave 4/your wave 2, I’d argue that the rise of U.S. Renditions, U.S. Manga Corps, ADV, etc. was the “rise” of that crest that peaked around 1996 when…

    (1) every Blockbuster in the country had a healthy catalog of Streamline titles as well as misc. other stuff,
    (2) ADV had finally grown to the point where they could license a TV series (a rarity at the time) and dub it in English. That series, of course, was Evangelion, and would push the company into the juggernaut it eventually became.
    (3) Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball were both being shown on American TV.

    Time-wise, it wasn’t long between that crest and the Pokemon wave, but the audiences were so distinctly different between the two that I think they qualify as separate waves entirely.