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In a twist that’s sure to enrage fans of Katsuhiro Otomo’s groundbreaking cyberpunk manga and anime, Vulture contends Keanu Reeves recently began talks to star in Warner Bros.’ live-action version of Akira.
Yeah, that probably calls for an old-fashioned “whoa.”
Earlier reports had such names as Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, Chris Pine and Justin Timberlake up for lead roles in the Hughes Brothers adaptation. However, the New York magazine blog asserts that the movie’s staggering $230-million working budget has the studio desperately searching for a co-financier — Legendary Pictures backed out of Akira — or, barring that, a star with worldwide appeal.
Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling reportedly passed. Reeves apparently was next in the Rolodex.
Otomo’s groundbreaking manga is set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo gripped by gang violence and anti-government terrorism. When Tetsuo, a young member of a biker gang, manifests telepathic powers, he draws the attention of the government, which fears he poses a threat. Otomo himself adapted Akira in 1988 in what’s widely considered a landmark anime.
Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures acquired the rights to Akira from Japanese publisher Kodansha in February 2008, setting up a two-movie project with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way. The studio hired Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves in February to polish the script. Production could begin as early as August.