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Jaume Collet-Serra Returns to Direct ‘Akira’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Leonardo DiCaprio produces with Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Andrew Lazar

Jaume Collet-Serra is in discussions to return to the “Akira” directors chair, signing on to helm Warner Bros. adaptation of the popular anime pic. The helmer left in early 2012 after production stalled.

In early 2012, the studio shut down pre-production so that fixes could be made to the script, including tightening the budget from its original $90 million range. At the time, Collet-Serra was in such high demand coming off the recent success of the Liam Neeson action pic “Unknown,” that he decided to leave instead of waiting for the changes to be made so that he could pursue other projects. He eventually landed another Neeson pic, “Non Stop,” which bows next February.

The studio did begin looking at other directors recently, including “Catfish” helmers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, in hopes of finding someone who could deliver a film on a more smaller scale. But ultimately, the studio was still in love with Collet-Serra’s vision, and sources say the director found time in his schedule as well as a new way to appraoch the adaptation that would meet the studio’s budget request.

Collet-Serra is currently in pre-production on the crime pic “Run All Night” with Neeson, Joel Kinnaman and Ed Harris and would do “Akira” afterwards in spring of 2014. It is unknown what the new budget would be.

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WB acquired the potential tentpole project for a seven-figure sum from Japanese manga publisher Kodansha in 2008. 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.

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

Garrett Hedlund was attached to star but it is unknown if his schedule would still allow him to do it.

Collet-Serra is repped by CAA and Management 360.

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