The economic crisis may be starting to hit Hollywood as more studios are taking a good look at movie budgets lately. Many studios have either delayed projects or dropped them unless their production companies can cut down on the spending. This has been seen with the movies ‘Paradise Lost’, ‘The Dark Tower’, ‘Arthur and Lancelot’ and ‘The Lone Ranger.’ Now it looks like ‘Akira’ can be added to this list.
THR has reported that Warner Bros. has shut down the ‘Akira’ production offices in Vancouver until they can rework the “casting and budgetary issues.” Below-the-line talent and crew were told to stop working and were sent home.
Now it’s up to the producers, Andrew Lazar (‘Space Cowboys’, ‘Get Smart’), Jennifer Kiloran Davisson (‘Red Riding Hood’, ‘The Ides of March’), Michael Tadross (‘I Am Legend’, ‘Super 8’), to sit with director Jaume Collet-Serra (‘Orphan’, ‘Unknown’) and iron out the issues.
One big concern is the lack of star power. At the moment, Garrett Hedlund (‘Tron’) is the only person who has officially signed on to the project and he isn’t exactly an A-list name. His ability (or lack of) to bring in audiences is a concern with Warner Bros. Other stars who are still in negotiations (Kristen Stewart, Ken Watanabe and Helena Bonham Carter) aren’t really considered audience draws either.
In the next two weeks, all parties concerned will be discussing the casting and going over the script to see if the budget can be brought down by a third. Currently, the budget is $90 million (about half of what it was when director Collet-Serra came onboard) and the studios want to bring it down to $60-$70 million. (Can it be possible to really make a good version of ‘Akira’ with this budget considering all the special/visual effects it would need?) If the issues can’t be resolved, ‘Akira’ could end up being shelved for good.
This will be the third time ‘Akira’ has been close to being brought to the big screen but is it the last? Sources say that the studios seems to want to see it made. “It’s a very resilient movie,” says one insider. “Warner Bros. just won’t let it die.”
Do you think ‘Akira’ should continue to be developed with a lesser budget or should it just be scrapped?
UPDATE: Looks like Warner Bros. is now saying the reason for closing the production offices is because of creative issues as they are looking to do another rewrite to the screenplay, according to Variety. Warner Bros. president, Jeff Robinov, apparently met with the ‘Akira’ team to discuss several points with them. One of which is the script. Looks like a new writer will be brought on board within the next two weeks to focus on character elements and the look of the film. While no names were specifically brought up regarding who would be hired to rewrite the screenplay, the studio has Jonah Nolan (yes, director Christopher Nolan’s brother who co-wrote ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’) and Michael Green (‘Green Lantern’,’Smallville’) on their short list. This would make the third rewrite to the screenplay since the project started. If you recall, David James Kelly was asked to do the first rewrite then Steve Kloves was hired for this most recent version. Let’s hope the third time is a charm as production was slated to begin on March 5.