Deadline reports that director Albert Hughes (curiously, no mention of his brother Allen...hmmm.....) and WB are stoked about the new script and have sent it out to some very heavyweight talent. Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy have all had the screenplay sent their way for the role of Tetsuo, while Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix will be flipping the pages for the part of Kaneda.
Now there is definitely going to be a cry that the material has been whitewashed, but the the film has been relocated to New Manhattan with the first film being adapted from books 1-3 of the manga (though why they didn't change the names of the characters as well is a little odd). Still, die hard fans will definitely not be pleased, but in the studio's defense, this project was never for that core fanbase anyway. It's been made apparent that WB is looking for a more marketable film than the anime classic and that's what they're going to deliver.
Frankly, all the names listed aren't really a surprise (except for maybe Phoenix). Every actor mentioned has either starred in or contended (or both) for previous franchise films and these are really the top players in their age bracket. It's not completely a shock that the studio is gunning for them, and Deadline adds that WB expects the two leads to come from this crop of names.
No release date or anything is set yet and we'd guess it'll be up to the schedule of whoever lands the part as to when this will lens.