Director Albert Hughes Leaves AKIRA

     May 26, 2011

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Director Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli) will no longer be directing Warner Bros. adaptation of the acclaimed manga Akira.  Hughes left the project over “creative differences”, but before you assume that’s the nice way of saying Hughes told the studio to fuck straight off, Deadline reports that he still plans to set up a different movie at the studio in the near future.

It’s possible that Hughes left the film over the studio’s uncertainty over who to cast in the lead roles of Tetsuo and Kaneda.  At first, they were looking at a diverse array of actors ranging from rising stars like Andrew Garfield and Garrett Hedlund to more established names like Robert Pattinson and Chris Pine.  But then Keanu Reeves started circling the project and suddenly Warner Bros wanted a more established box office star.  However, he passed on the film and now the studio is back to their original list.  That has to be frustrating for a director and I’m not surprised that Hughes has backed out.  Hit the jump for more details on the project.

Now that Hughes is out, Warner Bros. is actively seeking a new director to replace him.  The studio bought the rights two years ago for seven figures and intends to split the six-volume series into two films which each film covering three volumes.  The manga was previously adapted into an influential anime in 1988.  The Warner Bros. adaptation will also reset the story from Neo-Tokyo to Neo-Manhattan.  Here’s the synopsis for the first volume:

Akira is set in the post-apocalypse Neo-Tokyo of 2019, a vast metropolis built on the ashes of a Tokyo annihilated by an apocalyptic blast of unknown power that triggered World War III. The lives of two streetwise teenage friends, Tetsuo and Kaneda, change forever when dormant paranormal abilities begin to waken in Tetsuo, who becomes a target for a shadowy government operation, a group who will stop at nothing to prevent another catastrophe like that which leveled Tokyo. And at the core of their motivation is a raw, all-consuming fear: a fear of someone — or something — of unthinkably monstrous power known only as… Akira. And Akira is about to rise! [Amazon]

Obviously there’s a lot of leeway in “teenage” friends when you have Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, and James McAvoy up for Tetsuo, and Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake, and Joaquin Phoenix being courted for Kaneda.  Warner Bros. is still planning to get the movie into production this year or in early 2012.

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