Akira fans may not have much longer to wait for the live-action adaptation of the anime cult classic. Variety has learned that Warner Bros finally greenlit the project, which has been under development at the studio since they acquired the rights back in 2008. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran are producing the film through Appian Way, with creator of the original manga and writer-director of the 1988 anime Katsuhiro Otomo executive producing.
There are no actors attached yet, although it’s rumored that Garrett Hedlund (TRON: Legacy) is under serious consideration. Because of his demonstrated skills riding futuristic motorcycles? Who knows really, Akira is still in early development stages.
The live-action Akira adaptation hasn’t exactly had a smooth go of it. Sony toyed with the idea back in the 1990s, but it never got off the ground. The current WB project originally had Albert Hughes (From Hell, The Book of Eli) signed on to direct, but he left back in May because of what Deadline refers to as “amicable creative differences”. Jaume Collet-Serra (Orphan, Unknown) was brought on in July, but budgetary issues needed ironing out before the film could move forward. The film’s budget apparently dropped from $100 million to $90 million between directors, and there’s no word on what the final approved budget is. Variety’s sources say the film is slated to start production in late February to early March, presumably pending successful casting.
Hollywood has had a shaky history adapting anime into live-action films in recent years: Aeon Flux;Speed Racer; Astroboy. Either the concept falls flat when transposed out of the animated realm or the powers that be make so many changes and tweaks that the very core of the original’s appeal disappears. Anime adaptations should be more than big budget flicks with slick aesthetics and, hopefully, the creative team behind this new Akira adaptation understand that it’s about more than sweet motorbikes.