Warner Bros. has greenlit the production of Akira for Jaume Collet-Serra. The mostly unknown director came on board to replace Albert Hughes, who backed out due to creative differences.
Andrew Lazar, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Davisson make up the production team, while Katsuhiro Otomo, the original novel’s author, and the director of the anime adaptation, is on board as the exec producer.
We’ve also learned the lead role has been finally filled, after considering several frankly ridiculous possible actors for the part - including Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, James McAvoy, Keanu Reeves, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake, and Joaquin Phoenix.
Fortunately, Collet-Serra has settled on the more appropriate Garrett Hedlund, who recently starred in TRON: Legacy as the younger Flynn.
Now that the star is in place, the director can start choosing the rest of the cast around his image.
The film has hit a few bumps in the PR road, as the announcements for potential actors’ races and ages failed to match up with fans’ expectations (the film setting moved from Neo-Tokyo to New Manhattan), the budgets were severely cut, and the original director was lost.
Akira is about a group of youths in a motorcycle gang that opts to rescue one of their friends from a scientific experiment.
Thematically, the movie is about freedom and rebellion with a nice mix-in of teen angst - and the plan was originally to make the story into two films, each covering half of the original six-book manga.
The IP is likely a big priority for the studio since it paid a lot of money for the rights, but with the budget cut so far back, they are probably only looking for a single film.
Akira will likely enter production at the beginning of 2012, which could mean a 2014 summer release.