Akira Finally Gets The Greenlight

UPDATE: Garrett Hedlund offered the lead

Update: It's official on the Garrett Hedlund front - he's now in negotiations to play the bike gang leader, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Offers are still out to Gary Oldman, Helena Bonham Carter and, reportedly, Keira Knightley.

It’s been a long, hard road, littered with the debris of changing directors, rumoured stars and budgetary issues, but it appears Warner Bros. is finally ready to visit Neo Tokyo – or is it New Manhattan now? Yes, according to Variety, the studio has finally greenlit its live-action version of classic anime Akira.

Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra is the man still sitting in the director’s chair and the budget is apparently down to a more manageable $90 million. The plot finds a bike gang leader dealing with the fallout when his best pal is used in a government experiment to exploit his powerful psychokinetic abilities.

While there’s apparently a start date planned for February/March next year, the cast has yet to be locked. So who could star? Well, Tron Legacy's Garrett Hedlund is apparently in the frame as a likely lead – and at least he has experience with futuristic bikes. Even if they were lightcycles...

Warners nabbed the rights to Katsuhiro Otomo’s beloved animation back in 2008, with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way company aboard to produce. The script’s been through numerous drafts, with contributions from Hawk Ostby and Mark Fergus, with the latest version penned by Harry Potter veteran Steve Kloves. Albert Hughes was at one point attached to direct and the likes of Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, James Franco, Robert Pattinson and Zac Efron have all been linked with rumours about the lead role.

Will it finally hit screens? And will the studio find the right cast to avoid accusations of “whitewashing” the characters? We’re closer to finding out both…