Warner Bros is pushing the pause button on Akira.Quote via The Hollywood Reporter.
The project, which has been through several incarnations, is being shut down in the face of casting and budgetary issues. The production offices in Vancouver are being closed, with below-the-line talent and crew told to stop working. "Everybody is being sent home," according to an insider.
I'm assuming that by "casting issues" they of course mean the fact that they completely white-washed Akira, a seminal manga and anime from Japan. It's true, instead of hiring Japanese and Japanese-American actors to portray Japanese characters, they instead went the "White is Right" route and hired Garrett Hedlund (of Tron: Legacy fame) to play the hero, Kaneda. Kristin Stewart and Helen Bonham Carter were also in negotiations to star, with the former being cast as Kei, Kaneda's love interest and the latter as Lady Miyako. The only actual Japanese person in the movie was going to be Ken Watanabe and that was only after Gary Oldman turned down the offer to play The Colonel.
I'm not even Asian, let alone Japanese or Japanese-American and even I'm offend by Warner Bros. blatantly racist dickmove. It's not like people in this country won't watch a movie with a non-white cast; after all, Slumdog Millionaire was a hit. Black Rain was another hit and it only had three white characters in a predominately Japanese cast. The Last Samurai also comes to mind. The American movie industry has to pull its collective head out of its ass and realize that the United States isn't populated only by whites and African-American, and making movies starring Asian, Latino, South Asian and Middle Eastern actors is perfectly fine.