Back in July Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) signed on to direct the live-action adaptation of anime graphic novel Akira for Warner Bros., replacing Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli) who left due to “creative differences”.
Since then the director and Warner Bros. have been finding ways to reduce the budget, which at the time was way over $100m. Last week a new budget of $90m was presented, and Variety reports that the studio has now given the project the greenlight and are starting to offer roles to actors.
Names such as Robert Pattinson, Chris Pine, Andrew Garfield, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy were reportedly being considered for two lead roles earlier this year, but Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) is now said to be the top choice by both Warner Bros. and Collett-Sera.
The graphic novel follows the leader of a biker gang who must save his friend, discovered with potentially destructive psychokinetic abilities, from government medical experiments. Warner Bros. has moved the location from Japan to the US (annoying some fans), with the story now taking place in a rebuilt New Manhattan.
Leonardo DiCaprio is producing under his Appian Way banner, and Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves recently re-wrote the script. Katsuhiro Otomo, who wrote and directed the 1988 Japanese anime movie of the same name, will serve as executive producer. Shooting is set to begin in late February/early March 2012.