comScore Keanu Reeves Off Akira, Akira Shut Down | The Mary Sue
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Akira Pre-Production Halted for The Moment; Keanu Reeves Is Off the Project

Cautiously Optimistic

According to, anime fans can breathe easier, for a little while, at least. Not only has Keanu Reeves reportedly passed on the starring role of Kaneda, Warner Bros. has shut down Akira‘s pre-visualization department, and “let go” most of the staff working on the film’s pre-production.

Warner Bros. maintains that the two occurrences have nothing to do with one another, telling JoBlo:

Production on ‘Akira’ has not halted or been shut down, as the film has not yet been greenlit and is still very much in the development stage. The exploratory process is crucial to a project of this magnitude, and we will continue to sculpt our approach to making the best possible film.

Albert Hughes and Leonardo DiCaprio are still on the film as director and producer, respectively; and with names like that behind it Akira is unlikely to disappear entirely, that is, unless it becomes so expensive that Warner Bros. passes on it. The expense of Akira is reportedly the major motivator behind the script rewrites and aging of Kaneda (so that the draw of an established star can be applied to its publicity).

And I can see the worry of a studio that’s considering dropping $140 million on an extremely cerebral and viscerally unsettling cult cartoon remake about some kids set in another country.

…even if said cult cartoon was something of the founding inspiration for some of the greatest action cartoon series’ to come out of the 80’s and 90’s, even in America.

The optimistic way to look at this is that Warner Bros. knows it has to keep the interest of fans of the original Akira, because the movie will be very difficult to market otherwise. Nobody wants another Airbender situation. The significant blowback against Akira‘s casting (which has so far offered it’s two lead roles only to white actors) may have caused the studio to take a second look at that $140 million price tag and decide it was time to go back to the drawing board.

Of course there’s no guarantee that that is actually what happened, but it is the optimistic way to look at it.

(via Topless Robot.)

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