Welcome to a new age in Hollywood, where studios are putting major projects on hold if the numbers don’t line up. The latest victim? The new live-action version of Akira.
According to Heat Vision, the film is being shut down while Warner Bros. Pictures and the filmmakers reassess its budget. The production offices in Vancouver are being closed and the staff is being sent home, while director Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan) and the producers will take the next two weeks to go over the script and find ways to squeeze a few more dollars out of it.
The budget right now is reported to be around $90 million, which is half what it originally was when director Albert Hughes (Book of Eli) was ramping the movie up a while back. Apparently the studio wants to knock another $20-30 million off the current price tag.
The reason? Star power—or lack of it. Garrett Hedlund from Tron: Legacy has been cast in the lead role, but it’s not like moviegoers broke down the doors and rushed to see him in that underperforming sequel. The other potential cast members—Kristen Stewart (Twilight), Ken Watanabe (Inception) and Helena Bonham Carter (Dark Shadows)—aren’t exactly blockbuster names either (Stewart’s movies have all bombed outside the Twilight franchise), and in any case they’re still working out their deals.
Sources say that the project could have the plug pulled permanently if the budget cuts aren’t made, which would be a shame since this is the third time that Akira has come close to becoming a Hollywood feature film. But those famous inside sources also say that “Warner Bros. just won’t let” the movie collapse completely, so maybe there’s hope yet that Akira won’t join At the Mountains of Madness, The Dark Tower and all the other big genre projects that have hit hard times lately.