Having accepted that there is no way an Americanized live-action adaptation of Akira will ever completely satisfy anyone, Warner Bros. has committed itself to just getting it over with in as cursory and middling a fashion as possible. After all, the diehard fans have already rejected the very notion, after months of off-putting cast wish lists that involved everyone from Brad Pitt to Keanu Reeves—and unfortunately, without the participation of marquee names like those, the neophytes are far less likely to check it out. Therefore, the studio figures it may as well just commit itself to mediocrity and get it off the table (rather than scrap the project entirely, which would be admitting defeat to the Internet).
As reported earlier, that means slashing the project from a $250 million two-part epic to a more modest $90 million single film, and under those new parameters Warner Bros. has just given its humbled Akira a green light—really, more of a faded honeydew—for production to start early next year, under the direction of Unknown’s Jaume Collett-Sera, who brings a stylistic approach that can perhaps best be described as “within budget.” In keeping with that belt-tightening, the search for a world-famous white guy to star has been switched to their off-brand generic substitutes, which means Tron: Legacy’s Garrett Hedlund is now the top choice to play Kaneda, as Channing Tatum is probably busy. And thus the live-action Akira is well on its way to being neither a crazy ambitious success in spite of itself, nor a legendary, cautionary flop, but rather just sort of existing, which is the best it can possibly hope for.