Our Long National Nightmare Is Over: Akira Production Offices Shut Down

Warner Brothers has shut down Akira‘s production offices in Vancouver over “casting and budgetary issues”, reports THR. All below-the-line talent and crew of the production have been sent home. I’m assuming the casting issues were “Hey, all but one of these people are white. What the hell were we thinking?” but that might be giving them too much credit.

If you haven’t been following our constant kvetching about the live-action Akira movie, here’s a quick summary of what happened, which we recommend reading while listening to this:

The Hughes Brothers were originally attached to adapt books one through six as two movies with a budget of $230 million. Then rumors started circulating Warner Brothers was going to cast Zac Efron or a bunch of other white guys as the teenaged, Japanese gang members. The Hughes Brothers bailed. Then we heard Keanu Reeves was in talks to play Kaneda but smartly walked away from the burning wreckage. Then Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan, Unknown) signed on to direct, and the budget was cut to $90 million. Then Warner hired a secret dwarf hooker Garrett Hedlund as Kaneda because he totally looks like a Kaneda. They offered roles to Gary Oldman and Helena Bonham Carter. Carter signed but Oldman (who is awesome) passed on the role of the Colonel (the part went to Ken Watanabe, who is also awesome). Then Kristen Stewart was offered the role of Lipbiter McGee psychic medium Kei. Then we found out they were rewriting the story so Kaneda and Tetsuo were brothers and Kaneda owns a bar.

Now the production is halted over the budget/casting concerns. THR reports:

Producers […] will hunker down with director Jaume Collet-Serra for the next two weeks to iron out the script. […] If the issues cannot be resolved, the project could end up being shelved entirely, say insiders.

Collet-Serra already had halved the budget from the incarnation that Albert Hughes was going to direct. He now is working on a budget in the $90 million range. But with only Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) signed on to star, and Kristen Stewart, Ken Watanabe and Helena Bonham Carter in various stages of dealmaking, the studio feels that the price tag is still too high for a sci-fi project with that level of star wattage. [Ed.- BOOM. ROASTED.] The goal, say insiders, is to bring the budget down to between $60 million and $70 million.

How ever will Kristen Stewart handle this news? Like this: