Live-action Akira gets new director, lease on life

Not many properties could survive being dissed by Keanu Reeves, but, apparently, the impending-come-hell-or-high-water live-action adaptation of the classic manga Akira has that kind of resiliency. There's a new director, a new budget and a new release plan for bringing this cyberpunk saga to the big screen. Originally optioned for production in 2008, Akira has suffered its share of preproduction pitfalls, losing two directors (Ruairi Robinson and Albert Hughes), being turned down by potential lead Keanu Reeves and going through several writing teams and script drafts. At one point, Warner Bros. was planning to tell the tale of a far-future biker and his hunted psychic friend in two films with a total budget of $250 million. Now we're looking at a completely different animal: One film. A $90 million budget. And a director known for delivering bang for the buck. The man in question is Spaniard Jaume Collett-Serra, best-known for the 2009 horror flick Orphan and the 2011 Liam Neeson-starring thriller Unknown. Collet-Serra has apparently built a rep in Hollywood for delivering his movies on time and under budget, which must be music to the ears of the folks at the WB and producer Leonardo DiCaprio. So will Akira finally see the light of day? And when it does, will its modest budget relegate it to the middling territory occupied by the likes of, say, Aeon Flux? Or is the source material strong enough to carry the day? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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