The Warner Bros. manga adaptation Akira has suffered yet another loss, with director Albert Hughes stepping away from the project. The news comes just weeks after Keanu Reeves passed on the lead role of Kaneda.

Warner Bros. and Albert Hughes are said to have parted ways amicably on the project, and the studio is currently seeking another project for Albert Hughes to direct. Warner Bros. still has Akira on the fast track, and are actively searching for a new director.

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The studio went after Keanu Reeves because they wanted a bankable star at the lead, given the budget is constantly growing. Before Keanu Reeves was considered, the studio was eyeing younger actors for Kaneda such as Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake. and Joaquin Phoenix. Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy were contenders to play Kaneda's best friend, Tetsuo. It is believed that the studio will once again reach out to these younger actors, in hopes to get Akira ready to start shooting by late 2011 or early 2012.

Steve Kloves wrote the screenplay for Akira, which is adapted from the manga created by Katsuhiro Ôtomo. The story centers on Kaneda, the leader of a biker gang in Neo-Manhattan who tries to save his friend Tetsuo from a medical experiment.