Warner Bros. has greenlit the much troubled live-action adaptation of the seminal anime cult hit “Akira” for a late February/early March start date.

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.

The last we heard of “Akira,” Warner Bros. had hired Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra (“Unknown”)with a budget of $90 million, originally over $100 million. With the new news of “Akira” being greenlighted, the studio will begin searching for the male leads. According to Variety, sources are indicating that “Tron: Legacy” star Garrett Hedlund is considered a front-runner. Sources claim that both WB and Collett-Sera are high on Hedlund, although no offer has been made. An insider believes an offer could come soon.

Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran are producing with Mad Chance’s Andrew Lazar.

WB believes “Akira” can potentially become a tentpole project, having acquired the rights for a seven-figure sum from Japanese manga publisher Kodansha in 2008.

Katsuhiro Otomo, who wrote and directed the 1988 Japanese anime film of the same name, will exec produce “Akira.”

Source: Variety