Towards the end of last year, I was able to ask Universal president Ron Meyer what his thoughts were on the 2011 trend of massive blockbuster projects having their plugs pulled. Meyer posited that this has always been a routine practice, one simply amplified by today’s hyper-covered film news world. Whether that’s the case or the economy really has caught up with the studios, it’s become a systemic practice that will continue into the new year. Specifically it’s hitting WB’s Akira for, oh, the fifth or sixth time.

Already well trimmed from it’s original full-tentpole budget of $200m dollars and dreams of big stars, Akira in its leaner $90m form has now also been stalled, offices put on haitus, and producers directed to trim another $20-30m from the budget. Apparently the star power of Garret Hedlund and Kristen Stewart does not make the WB sleep well at night.

This news comes from first-hand accounts of the offices shutting down and crews being laid off, while insiders provide the new budget figure and suggestion that the project could be shelved completely if the budget is not met. Considering how far they’ve taken things at this point, I find it unlikely WB won’t find some way to make this happen, but will it be at the cost of this being worth a shit?

The real value of any Akira adaptation–regardless of whitewashing the cast or tweaking specific relationships or whatever other typical Hollywood touches happen to it–is the potential for evocative world-building and unique apocalyptic imagery. Those things don’t come cheap for a studio picture, so one wonders what the approach will be for further cutting it down.

Bravo on the studios hesitating to drop loads of cash on ill-formed projects, but the change in behavior isn’t going to benefit us consumers if it just results in cheaper, watered-down bullshit. If they’re going to do something, they should certainly still do it right. The idea is simply to make sure what they do right is worth doing in the first place, and unfortunately I doubt these constant trims are in favor of enriched thematic subtext or more delicately developed characters.

I hope this starts shooting soon, because even if it doesn’t I suspect we’ll be having to cover some periodic spasm of life for years and years to come. Do it or don’t WB!

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Source | THR