Kristen’s ‘AKIRA’ Project on the Outs

Warner Bros.’ live-action “Akira” remake has hit another speed-bump on its long road to starting production.

Studio confirms it has shut down pre-production at the Vancouver offices as the film’s creative team reworks the script. Though it’s been reported that WB wants to whittle down the $90 million budget — which was cut once already — insiders tell Variety that the budget is fine, and studio execs are dithering over the script and cast.

Though the sci-fi epic has already gone through a handful of rewrites, including expensive buff-ups from Steve Kloves and David James Kelly, insiders say a new writer will probably be brought on to work with helmer Jaume Collet-Sera and producers Jennifer Davisson Killoran and Andrew Lazar over the next two weeks, focusing more on character-driven elements.

While no one has been offered the rewrite job, the studio has already begun looking at several writers, including Jonah Nolan (“The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises”) and Michael Green (“Green Lantern”).

Sources stress that this in no way means the project is dead — the studio is bullish on getting it together.

WB prexy Jeff Robinov had met with the “Akira” team to discuss several things, including the second lead opposite Garrett Hedlund. Choices had been narrowed down to Michael Pitt and “Chronicle” star Dane DeHaan, but the studio wanted to wait until after the holidays to decide; now it looks like that decision will be delayed further.

It’s been a long string of stops and starts for a live-action “Akira,” which has been in development at the studio since it acquired the rights to the Japanese manga classic in 2008. Albert Hughes came on to direct last year, only to drop out of the project in the summer. Collet-Sera was then brought in, but had to work with the producers to slice the budget down to $90 million before it got its greenlight.

Since those cuts were made, the studio had been working on putting a cast together with Hedlund landing the lead and Kristen Stewart, Helena Bonham Carter and Ken Watanabe still working out deals.

Set in New Manhattan, the cyberpunk sci-fi epic follows the leader of a biker gang who must save his friend, discovered with potentially destructive psychokinetic abilities, from government medical experiments.

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