The live action remake of Katsuhiro Otomo’s anime masterpiece Akira seems to be cursed. It’s hit one problem after another, and this time its $90 million budget is the problem. The Hollywood Reporter tells us that Warner Brothers has halted work on Akira to give the film’s producers a chance to sit down with director Jaume Collet-Serra to figure out how to bring the budget down. The problem is bad enough that screenwriter Steve Kloves, who did the most recent rewrite, may be brought in as well, meaning significant scenes will have to be omitted. When Akira was shut down it had an estimated budget of $90 million. The plan is to try and bring it down to somewhere between $60 and $70 million. If the filmmakers can’t figure out how to bring the cost down, the film will be scrapped.
The economic crunch appears to be finally hitting Hollywood hard. Ticket sales are the lowest they’ve been since 1995. Disney recently had an involuntary gag reaction when they saw what their new Lone Ranger movie was going to cost, though Jerry Bruckheimer’s vision for this venerable character’s resurrection was lowered from $260 million $215 million, still several times the budget of the Akira reboot, an inconceivable amount of money for a western.Both Paradise Lost and Arthur and Lancelot slammed on the brakes, and both of these were Warner Brothers projects too. Is Warner Brothers on the ropes, balking at production costs a fraction of what other studios are spending on their shows? Or are they the only major studio with enough foresight and vision to see the writing on the wall with respect to runaway production costs?
Perhaps the bigger question is why Warner Brothers thinks there’s a need to redo a film that was already perfect, and that almost singlehandedly defined the anime genre when it was released in 1988.
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