We just talked about how Mila Kunis may be taking a key role in Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful, after passing on a role in the live-action version of Akira to be directed by Albert Hughes.

I’d heard rumor that Ms. Kunis might be looking at an Akira role, but there’s a lot more in today’s report about what Warner Bros. is trying to do with the film. The big deal is right in the headline — in addition to talking to James Franco about a key part, Warner Bros. reportedly offered the lead, Kaneda, to Brad Pitt. He turned it down, but that really tells us what WB is trying to do with the movie, and makes me wonder if we’ll ever see it.

Vulture has the details, via ‘knowledgable insiders,’ saying the film is expensive enough that Warner Bros. wants a major star or two to anchor the picture, the better to safeguard the investment. (The studio doesn’t want Watchmen, Part II, most likely.) So WB president Jeff Robinov reportedly went right to Brad Pitt, offering him the lead role of Kaneda. Vulture has been a little quick to post some stuff lately, so don’t take this as 100% gospel, but enough of it lines up with other things we’ve heard that it’s worth considering.

Note, for those who don’t keep actor ages in mind: Brad Pitt is 47. That’s about thirty years older than the character he was offered. James Franco is 32, also way too old for either Kaneda or the other lead, Tetsuo. Mila Kunis is 27, which would work fine for the revolutionary Kay/Kei, which is the part she was reportedly considering.

So Brad Pitt is said to have passed, and if Vulture’s casting report about Oz the Great and Powerful is correct, Mila Kunis and James Franco will both do Sam Raimi’s movie instead of Akira. (PR reps for both actors have yet to respond to request for a confirmation or denial.)

So what happens to Akira if someone quite famous can’t be secured to ensure a good bit of global box office? Will Warner Bros greenlight a cheaper version of the film, with younger, up and coming actors in the lead roles? From the perspective of serious fans of the story, that’s a better option. I’m very curious to read the script that is in play right now, to see if it has been changed to accommodate the fact that WB might well have to cast actors older than the original characters, in order to safeguard the budget. Perhaps a better choice is not to make the film at all, but there has been a good bit of money spent on it already — we don’t know the current dollar amount — so it might get pushed through one way or the other.

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