Moving the setting of Akira from futuristic Neo-Tokyo to the equally-futuristic-but-more-American Neo-Manhattan won't be the only change Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures are making to the manga/anime classic. They're still going to make the cast pretty old, too! And white, naturally. And maybe Justin Timberlakey.
While the studios have seemingly given up on getting Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Leonardo DiCaprio--maybe Brad Pitt--for the high school-age leads, they've put together a new shortlist of actors up for the parts of Tetsuo and Kaneda, and, well... at least they found one candidate with futuristic motorcycling experience?:
...for Tetsuo, Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy have been given the new script. For the role of Kaneda, the script has been given to Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix. The two leads are expected to come from that group of actors.
Deadline goes on to say, "The two leads are expected to come from that group of actors," so really the only question now is which combination of guys it will be. Also, the question of if anyone at Warner Bros. has ever seen Akira.