Keanu Reeves Departs “Akira” Remake

Those fearing the planned live-action remake of Japanese anime and manga classic “Akira” at Warner Bros. Pictures can likely rest a little easier now.

The other week it was reported that Keanu Reeves had begun informal talks to play motorcycle gang leader Kaneda in the Albert Hughes-directed remake which shifts the action from Neo-Tokyo to New Manhattan.

Like the comic and earlier animated film, this follows Kaneda’s attempts to save Tetsuo from a medical experiment that threatens to unleash destructive powers. The potential casting of 46-year-old Reeves to play a teenage gang leader however raised eyebrows.

Now, reports that Reeves has since passed on the project and late last week the studio shut down the pre-viz department, letting go of most of the staff that was working on the film. They stress however that neither event is connected and the studio is still actively looking for a lead.

A Warners spokesperson tells them “Production on ‘Akira’ has not halted or been shut down, as the film has not yet been greenlit and is still very much in the development stage. The exploratory process is crucial to a project of this magnitude, and we will continue to sculpt our approach to making the best possible film.”

Concern over the film mostly revolves around the budget which was previously reported to be sitting at around $230 million, leading to talk that Warners is hoping to co-produce the film with another major studio. Right now with the project in limbo, there’s no guarantee either way if the film will go ahead or not – stopping of pre-viz during development has happened to numerous projects in the past, films which ended up getting made.