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

by     Posted 2 years, 338 days ago


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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  • Dogg

    Uh…is it too much to want an Asian under 25 as the star of freakin’ Akira?

    • ANGEL

      You got that right!! Why in the world would they ask Keanu’s old A**// I can already see Hollywood f*ckin up just like they did with “the Last Airbender” and “Dragonball, Evolution”!!!

  • Ringbearer1420

    Or you could could get a Asian guy.

  • Man From Nowhere


  • Michael

    If there are any smart people in Hollywood, it seems it’s the actors who have rejected roles in Akira.

    Are Hollywood studio execs that ignorant and pigheaded that they would refuse to give an new and/or up-and-coming Asian-American actor or two an opportunity?

    There are a lot of Asian-Americans here in this country. They were born and raised here, and they speak perfect English, too.

    And, yes, some even act and have been trying to make a career out of it!

    These narrow-minded Hollywood executives need only look at Fast Five (directed by Justin Lin) to know that a diverse cast with only two white characters and numerous Asian, Black and Latino actors can make bank.

    They need to realize now that by going backward, old-fashioned racist in casting “Akira” (hint: Akira’s a Japanese name) is going to backfire.

    Just make it a diverse cast. They’re going to set it in New York? New York is absolutely one of the most diverse states in the country. Don’t pull a “Friends” and bleach it white.

  • Ly

    These studio execs seem to have forgotten what great success films that were meant for Asian male leads but cast Caucasian leads have done. The Last Airbender and Dragonball Z were AMAZING. What a joke… When this movie flops, I hope the exec’s heads roll

    • Michael

      But their skewed perspective on casting is yet another reflection of their adherence to the status quo.

      A film with a white cast and a white lead can flop time and time again, but the studio just shrugs and says: Well, we adhered to the formula, we don’t know why it didn’t work.

      But almost all studio execs simply believe as an undeniable fact that a movie with a minority lead, or cast, is a niche movie that won’t sell in either America or globally. And even when movies come that debunk that belief, the studios just shrug, and simply look at them as aberrations, one-time events.

      When a movie with a minority lead fails, they’re quick to jump up and say: See, I told you so, minority-led movies don’t sell.

      So even when a white newcomer starts out with a couple flops, there still will be opportunities for him/her.

      But most minorities don’t even get a chance for one movie, nevermind four.

      • Ringbearer1420

        You nailed. Great post.

      • Ly

        I wholeheartedly agree. Hence, that’s why I say I hope some heads roll when this movie flops. Otherwise, the same patterns will just continue

  • Zod6666

    this can never be good movie with the marijuana smoking Hughes Brothers

    • Kemuel Butler

      Zod, you sir are an idiot. If you’re going to judge someone for their lifestyle, at least use proper grammar.

  • Kyungshikah

    I want to address the issue that people have about why the studio heads won’t look in to casting an Asian for the role.

    I’m Asian myself (Korean in fact), but I clearly understand why they wouldn’t. Is it a racial issue? Sure. But more so, it’s because it’s more difficult to sell and market a movie which will cost a studio millions of dollars with an Asian lead. Is it fair? Most certainly not, but it’s just hard facts.

    Rarely do you see a movie making big bucks with an up and comer. Sure it happens, but more likely these studios heads aren’t going to take that risk when it involves so much money.

    Again, I understand peoples frustrations on why an Asian movie adaptation can’t have Asian lead roles but it quite frankly just won’t have the world wide appeal that will churn in the millions.

    That being said, if the movie is made, produced and directed well enough, that should be more than enough to gain interest amongst people, but it’s the first step which is the most difficult, and the first step being that the studio heads needs to give a project a green light.

    So for a movie like Akira, I really don’t think it’s a matter of whether it’s a white cast or an Asian cast – it really isn’t. The story in itself is so damn unique that it really won’t matter what nationality the cast of the race is, it’s just a matter of finding someone with the vision to make the film the way it should be.

    It’s not like a movie like Old Boy (which I read awhile ago about being remade), where the story and baseline of the movie is really ingrained in Asian culture, more specifically Korean culture. It’s really difficult to translate that in a Western way so the story and the feel of a movie translate seamlessly. Or even a movie such as My Sassy Girl. I know they’ve made a remake and I’ll be honest and admit that I haven’t watched it. But even without watching the movie, I know that it would not have translated the entire feel of the movie, because what made the movie sweet was the love story, true; which is the heart beat of the movie, but also because of how it resonates the Asian culture through it’s characters and how they perceive love and relationships which differs from the Western culture.

    Anyway, that’s my opinion on the matter.

    I honestly think Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be great in the lead role.

    • ANGEL

      Ummm, are you a Korean Republican, cause u aint helpin!!!!

    • Terry


      Kyungshikah, if you are indeed a Korean, then it’s rather sad that you feel that way. I’m Korean as well and believe me, I understand how hard it is to get a movie funded and off the ground but what Hollywood is attempting to do is inexcusable.
      The fact that you say it’s OK because “that’s just business” really just points to the fact that you’re selling out your ethnicity.

      The reason why most people (Asians and non-Asians alike) are in an uproar is because Hollywood is taking a movie and story that is beloved and ingrained within Japanese culture, titled by a Japenese name, loved by worldwide audiences for that very reason, and then having the audacity to change the very thing that made the story so special.

      The fact that you claim you “understand” the studio’s decision to use white actors in this movie even while recognizing that it a racist decision merely highlights the fact that you are accepting the status quo as it is, injustice and all. Sorry dude, you dropped your spine on the floor.

      Dragonball and Airbender made the same mistakes. Do you defend the casting of that movie as well?

      Your comment about “Old Boy” also makes no sense. Like I said, I’m Korean. I lived in Korea for over 15 years. Please point out to me what makes “Old Boy” “ingrained in Korean culture.” Give me 3 reasons why the movie is so Korean that it wouldn’t translate to a Hollywood feature.

      I’ll tell you the REAL reason. “Old Boy” is graphic in its depiction of incest which had Hollywood execs squirming in their seats. It had nothing to do with Korean culture.

      Please Kyungshikah. While I believe that every person is entitled to their own opinion, the fact that you defend such blatant racism shows how far Asians really need to go to break boundaries within this industry and society overall.

  • Seygen

    If they’re going to cast white people in this movie, they should change the title to be more Caucasian sounding. Like “STEVE”.

    • MarsHottentot

      Awesome. That is brilliant.

  • jking

    name one talented asian actor please? not one name in all these posts……..

    • ANGEL

      John Cho, Jay Chou, Brian Tee, and I’m a Black Woman, So if I can name 3 off the top of my head, Then I’m sure hollywood can come up with hundreds more!!!


  • space cadet

    who cares keanu passing on this project actually means this movie might have a chance.

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  • garyd

    If Hollywood did a reboot of “Enter the Dragon” today Zak Efron or Justin Beiber would play Bruce Lee’s character!!!

  • Ghost

     Ha Ha Ha

    All these asians whining over a hollyweird movie
    Hey how many asian filns have white leads ????
    You don’t hear about white actors whuning about not seeing whites as leads in the asian filn industry ????
    What you see has been aroud since hollyweird started filming
    So don’t go thinking that things are going to change
    Want to talk about “RACISM” !!!
    Asia is so much more RACIST the any whites have ever been
    That seems to be the excuse when something is white is oh it’s racism
    Look at your own culture before you start whining “RASCISM”
    Crap that is allowed in asia would never be allowed in the US
    Business not allowing certain races to use that business
    Hollyweird isn’t totally racist like what’s in other countries
    So clean up your own “RACISM” then you can complain about others being racist
    That’s why hollyweird don’t want anything some cause they don’t want the B/S

  • Ly

    Ghost: first of all, why are you telling Asians to stop their whining and to look at their own culture to stop their own RACISM? Ever think that these Asians are ASIAN AMERICAN? That they were born here? Thats the problem with ignorant people, u don’t understand things clearly. Second, when Asian films cast parts, they cast people who FIT THE CHARACTER. If the character is supposed to be Asian, then the person cast is Asian. If this studio wants a white lead, then as Seygen stated above, call the movie “Steve”, not Akira. You state that white people don’t complain about roles in Asia? That’s because they don’t have to. They got opportunities here. The reason why Hollywood hasn’t changed their attitudes much? Ignorance and people like YOU.

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