All of the staff working on Warner Bros. long-boiling, deeply troubled adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo's sprawling manga series Akira have been sent home and the production's Vancouver offices have gone 'lights out'.
There seem to be two main problems. Firstly, the budget needs to be brought down. Secondly, the script needs to be made more appealing to actors, because they studio is having trouble getting talent to sign. Only Garret Hedlund has been confirmed as a paid-up part of the cast, I believe, and you just can't hang a movie on that kid.
According to The Hollywood Reporter:
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.
Iron out? I wonder if 'steam roller' would be a more appropriate notion?
Steve Kloves, most famous for adapting (all but one of) the Harry Potter novels, recently did a big overhaul on the screenplay, but it doesn't seem to have been enough. There's some speculation that he might be called in to help with this eleventh hour reworking, but I suspect that may seem like throwing good money after bad and Warners won't stump for him to come back. I certainly wouldn't, not at this stage.
I think it's obvious that there are a lot of doubts about this project. The casting attempts weren't really meeting much favour amongst the core fanbase and the relocation of the project from Tokyo to Manhattan – sorry, Neo Tokyo to Neo Manhattan – has sparked its fair share of criticism too.
Maybe Akira will come back from the dead again, but I'm almost hopeful it won't. We don't need this film, not now, not from these creatives, not under these circumstances. There's been barely a trace of anybody treating this like a piece of entertainment, let alone art – all we're seeing are balance sheet decisions.