Warner Bros. taps ‘Unknown’ director for ‘Akira’

Live-action tentpole moves forward with Jaume Collett-Serra

Warner Bros. is moving ahead with its remake of “Akira” in a fiscally sensible way, tapping reliable Spanish helmer Jaume Collet-Serra (“Orphan,” “Unknown”) to direct a live-action version of the anime cult hit at a lower revised budget of $90 million.

WB acquired the potential tentpole project for a seven-figure sum from Japanese manga publisher Kodansha in 2008. Ruairi Robinson and Albert Hughes were previously attached to direct the adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s graphic novel, but Hughes exited amicably in May over creative differences.

Gary Whitta was the first writer attached, while Albert Torres and the team of Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby also contributed drafts. Steve Kloves, WB’s go-to scribe for its lucrative “Harry Potter” franchise, most recently polished Torres’ draft.

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 experimentats.

Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran are producing with Mad Chance’s Andrew Lazar. Otomo, who wrote and directed the 1988 Japanese anime pic of the same name, will exec produce “Akira.”

Collet-Serra has earned a reputation for delivering pics on time and on budget, and his box office performance has been rising with each effort: His feature directorial debut “House of Wax” took in $68 million worldwide in 2005, while 2009’s “Orphan” grossed more than $76 million worldwide. Earlier this year, Liam Neeson starrer “Unknown” opened in the top spot and has grossed more than $130 million worldwide on a reported production budget of $30 million.

Helmer is also attached to direct WB’s vampire pic “Harker,” another Appian Way production.

Collet-Serra is repped by CAA and Circle of Confusion.

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