>> Zac Efron, Morgan Freeman In Akira

Source: Empire

It's not at all clear where these rumours are coming from, so file them firmly under "Hmmm" for the time being, but various sources are reporting rumblings that Zac Efron is in the frame for the Hughes Brothers' re-imagining of Akira.

Bloody Disgusting report hearing that the High School Musicler has "been offered the lead", while /Film claim a different source saying "it's far from a done deal". Neither site reveals who they've been talking to. Whilst trying to get to the bottom of the story, BD also turned up, again from whence we know not, that his gravitas-ness Morgan Freeman is circling the role of the Colonel.

For those new to the fact that an American version of the iconic manga and anime is even in the works, the story dates back several years. After traversing the circles of development hell since the 90s, word started emerging in 2008 that Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way production company was trying to put the project together for Warner Brothers, splitting Katsuhiro Otomo's colossal six-volume manga into two features (his own two-hour original anime was made before the books had finished, and ends differently), with a budget of at least $300m.

In late 2009 Children of Men writers Hawk Ostby and Mark Fergus were reported to be cracking on with a new script. And earlier this year, just after The Book of Eli hit, the news started coming in that the Hughes Brothers had been chosen to bring the project to life.

The idea all along seems to have been to transplant Otomo's Neo-Tokyo into New Manhattan, so an all-American Kaneda was always on the cards. But Zac Efron? Morgan Freeman we can deal with (although he doesn't look much like the source material), but can we really imagine Troy Bolton roaring through a Blade Runner dystopia on one of those bikes? Perhaps we're wrong to typecast him. Perhaps a bit of edgy cyberpunk is just what he needs to rescue him from the likes of HSM and Charlie St Cloud. Johnny Depp was in 21 Jump Street. Bruce Willis used to be that arse from Moonlighting.

What say you? Can a blockbuster American Akira diptych be a success? And is Efron, if the rumours are remotely true, the man to bring Kaneda to life?

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