127 Hours star James Franco has confirmed being in talks to play the lead biker gang leader in the Akira manga/anime epic remake [The studio heads claim it's an adaptation of the source material, but I don't recall the lead being a middle-aged hipster...] about a group of children genetically-tinkered with by the military to become psionic weapons. The setting is in post-WW3 Tokyo, where an explosion which leveled the city was believed to have been caused by a particularly powerful esper known as the titular character. Kaneda’s friend, Tetsuo, gets captured and experiemented on, thus setting the stage for a future disaster.
The manga is currently getting an English re-release from Kodansha, while the anime has been ported to R1 Blu-Ray. The movie’s been on and off development for decades, but Happy Harry has an “inside look” at what you can expect from this iteration.
Update: Via Twitchfilm, a possible look at the new version of the film.
Update 2: Since nothing says “dystopia” like a game of Quiddich, one of the Harry Potter movie series writers has now been hired for the script.
Update 3: Now, Twilight’s Robert Pattinson, X-Men: First Class’s James McAvoy, and Spider-Man 2.0′s Andrew Garfield are being considered for Tetsuo, since we obviously can’t tell the difference between them, and him. Chris Pine, Michael Fassbender, Justin Timerlake, and Joaquin Phoenix(?!) are being considered for Kaneda.
Update 4: Via @aicnanime and @slashfilm , there’s a new “petition” you can join here if you think the flick should have Asian and/or Asian-American actors.
Update 5: Via Rotten Tomatoes and Joblo.com, Collider notes that Keanu’s dropped out of the project, but that the studio insists it’s still happening.
Update 6: Deadline notes that Hughes dropped out of Akira over “creative differences” regarding the project, but that the studio is still determined to keep the film going and find another director soon.
Update 7: Variety reports that the “Unknown” director has been tapped to direct. - Thanks to Tony F. for the heads up
Update 8: From Slash, it appears that Warner continues to tenaciously cling to Akira, and has re-greenlit the film for shooting this coming March with Orphan’s Jaume Collet-Serra now attached as director, and Tron 2′s Garrett Hedlund the latest contender to wear yellow-face because Hollywood still hates Asian actors as leads, even though Fast 5, The Hangover 2 and Harold and Kumar prove they can sell a picture to play Kaneda.
Update 9: Apparently, WB can’t drive down to Chinatown, Koreatown, or Little Tokyo, because they aren’t aware those places exist outside of Burbank wants Gary Oldman as The Colonel, and Helen Bonham Carter as Miyako. Thanks to Anime News Network via Twitch for the update.
Update 10: Nothing new, but Hedlund has officially been offered to ruin play Kaneda.
Update 11: I guess there is something new after all, as Anime News Network via THR reports that Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3′s Keira Knightley has been offered an unspecified role.
Update 12: In more It’s ok if you’ve never heard of them, as long as they’re white. news, Tetro’s Alden Eherenreich and We Need To Talk About Kevin’s Ezra Miller are being pursued for Tetsuo.
Update 13: The National is suggesting that Warner is aiming for a PG rating and a $90 million budget.
Update 14: Anime News Network noted casting color-blind casting calls for Yamagata [The one Asian guy they might allow to be played by an Asian character, but only 'cus he dies.] and Ky, even though it’s Kai in the manga and anime, because Gawd forbid the audience might have to learn how to fucking spell correctly.
Update 15: Because it totally fucking makes sense, Dark Horizons via Bloody Disgusting reports that Kristen Stewart has been offered the part of Kei, the female spy.
Update 16: Comicbookmovie.com via Moviefone confirmed that Miller is not interested in ruining a classic character playing Tetsuo, and has denied reports that he’s being sought for the role. Oh, and THR notes that Kei would become Ky Reed, and already have powers, and is basically working as a muckraker, rather than a spy.
Update 10: The imaginary Akira movie keeps reshuffling deck chairs coming up with Yellow-face candidates for Tetsuo as THR notes that G.I. Joe 2′s D.J. Cotrona, Prometheus’s Logan Marshal Green, Rocknrolla’s Toby Kebbell, Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden, Night at the Museum’s Rami Malek, Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Pitt, Cowboys & Aliens’ Paul Dano, and Tetro’s Alden Ehrenreich are all contenders for the part. Thanks to @aicnanime for the link.
Update 11: I’ll put it up as a denial until confirmed otherwise, but at the end of an MTV Geek interview linked to AICN about Dark Knight Rises, Oldman says he’s “unsure” about joining Akira.
Update 12: Collider says Inception’s Ken Watanabe is now up for the part of The Colonel. Thanks to @fistfulofmedia for the tip.
Update 13: So, according to Comicbookmovie.com via Bleeding Cool, Kaneda’s no longer a gang leader, but a bar owner, even though they had a separate bartender in the original manga and anime. And Tetsuo is his brother. And The Colonel is in on testing children, even though in the anime and manga, he only goes along with it because the government is openly funding the project. And of course, the emphasis will be on NYC being destroyed, not Tokyo. In addition it appears that Stewart, Hedlund, Carter, and Watanabe are locked.
Update 14: Comicbookmovie.com via MTV indicates that Carter has not committed to Akira yet.
Update 15: Sulu still isn’t pleased, for some reason.
Update 16: Warner Brothers has shut down production on the film due to casting and budgetary issues. Thanks to Anime News Network and Heat Vision for the info.
Update 17: Gonna have to wait to whip out the champagne bottles, as ANN via Variety reports that WB’s gonna rework the script and then decide whether or not to continue the project. The option to cast True Blood’s Dane DeHaan and/or Boardwalk Empire’s Michael Pitt as Tetsuo was unfortunately the only thing associated with this turkey which really ended. However, in a new update, THR’s insider claims Warner’s ready to stick a fork in it.
Update 18: Comicbookmovie.com reports that Chris Nolan’s brother Jonathan is attached to a rewrite. Also, Crunchyroll via Variety suggests that the reason production stopped is Warner appears to be satisfied with its current slate of tentpoles.