Variety reports Warner Brothers has greenlit Akira for a late February/early March start at a budget of $90 million, with Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan, Unknown) directing and Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, and Andrew Lazar producing. They also claim Garrett Hedlund is the studio and the director’s top pick to star as Kaneda, but no offer has been made yet. To give some background, here’s a summary of this increasingly disastrous sounding project we made awhile back:
The Hughes Brothers were originally attached to adapt books one through six in two movies with a total budget rumored to be $230 million. Things were looking good until rumors started circulating Warner Brothers was going to cast Zac Efron or a bunch of other white guys as the teenaged, Japanese gang members. Then the Hughes Brothers left the project. Then we heard Keanu Reeves was in talks to play Kaneda but smartly walked away, perhaps after looking at a calender and realizing it’s been nearly two decades since he was a teenager. (Allegedly, upon looking at the calender he said, “Whoa.“)
So yeah. The budget’s been slashed by over 60% and they still want to cast 20-something and 30-something white boys to play the very young Japanese hoodlums. Because apparently a white boy with spiky hair is interchangeable with an Asian character by Hollywood standards. This is why we can’t have nice things.