Keanu Reeves Will NOT Star in AKIRA; Film Still in Development

     May 17, 2011

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Talks between Warner Bros. and Keanu Reeves regarding his role in the studio’s adaptation of the manga-turned-anime, Akira, have come to an end with Reeves passing on the project. JoBlo broke the news of the deceased negotiations earlier today which quickly spawned questions concerning the film’s future at the studio. While I’ll stop short of projecting the film’s long-term outlook, for now we have confirmed the accuracy of the original report with the studio who reassures us that Reeves passing on the role has not killed the project which is set to be directed by Albert Hughes (The Hughes Brothers) from a rewritten script by Steve Kloves (the Harry Potter series).

Although the constant back-and-forth regarding Akira casting may appear to be a bleak sign for the project (a shortlist of names including Robert Pattinson and Chris Pine previously appeared here, with names like James Franco and Zac Efron being rumored here and here), it’s worthy to note that many high-profile/big-budget projects such as this have a difficult time getting off of the ground initially. As such, we should most likely expect Warner Bros. to begin courting another upper-echelon name to attach to the project in the near future. For more on Akira, including a statement from the studio, hit the jump.

akira_movie_posterAs news of Reeves passing on the film began to surface, we reached out to Warner Bros. who issued this brief statement regarding Akira:

“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.”

This statement essentially reinforces my expectation that the studio will begin negotiating with other “A-list” caliber names in the not too distant future. As for the content of this project itself, producer Andrew Lazar told Steve back in June 2010 that Warner Bros.’ plan for adapting the six-volume collection is to tell the story over the course of two films (naturally, with the first film covering the first three volumes and so forth).

In terms of budget, it is believed that rumors of Akira‘s $200 million production budget were somewhat overstated and that the more accurate number lies closer to $140 million. Nevertheless, $140 million is not something that studios dish out nonchalantly so those hoping to see an adaptation of the classic story will certainly have to wait until the project’s casting and budgeting stars align.

To check out all of our previous Akira coverage, click here.

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