It would seem that the live-action remake of Akira just can't seem to stay out of trouble. Since its inception the project has been hitting pothole after pothole, going through rewrites, pre-production shutdowns and even director changes. For a while it looked like things were on track, with Jaume Collet-Serra attached to direct and Garrett Hedlund attached to star (with names like Kirsten Stewart, Ken Watanabe and Helena Bonham Carter rumored for other roles). But if the project is indeed cursed, today brings more evidence.
THR has learned that WB has halted work on Akira due to budget concerns. The pre-production offices have once again been shut down and, according to the trade, "below-the-line talent and crew" have been told to stop their work on the project. Over the next two weeks the plan is for the films producers - Jennifer Kiloran Davisson and Andrew Lazar - to sit down with Collet-Serra and figure out how to bring the budget down. The report says that it is unknown if screenwriter Steve Kloves, who did the most recent rewrite, will be brought in on the negotiations as well. When Akira was shut down it had an estimated budget of $90 million and the plan is to try and bring it down to somewhere between $60 and $70 million. If the filmmakers are unsuccessful in bringing down the cost, the movie will be declared dead.
This kind of thing has actually been happening a lot in recent months. It started this past summer, when Disney balked at The Lone Ranger's price tag, but more recently both Paradise Lost and Arthur and Lancelot slammed on the brakes (the last two also being Warner Bros.-driven projects). From an outside perspective it would seem that the economic crunch is finally hitting Hollywood, and it's not really too much of a surprise considering that ticket sales in 2011 were the lowest they've been since 1995.
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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.