News Warner, Leonardo DiCaprio to Produce Live-Action Akira (Update 2)
posted on 2008-02-20 17:45 EST by Egan Loo
The Hollywood Reporter and Variety entertainment trade periodicals both report that Warner Brothers and Appian Way, the production company of actor Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, The Aviator), will adapt Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira manga into two live-action films. Each film will cover three volumes of the renowned science-fiction manga about a governmental genetic project and a teenager's attempt to save a fellow biker gang member.
The manga set in Neo-Tokyo, a city rebuilt after being destroyed in a mysterious explosion. Otomo directed his own animated film adaptation that premiered on July 16, 1988 — the same day that the story has the fictional Tokyo being destroyed. The first live-action film is scheduled for release in the summer of 2009 and will move the story's setting to "'New Manhattan,' a city rebuilt after being destroyed 31 years ago."
Ireland's Ruairi Robinson will be making his feature directorial debut with this project, and Gary Whitta (Book of Eli) is writing a script. Warner Brothers once had the film rights for Akira before, but Executive Vice-President Greg Silverman (300, Batman Begins) had to re-acquire them from Kodansha after a round of pitched bidding that reached seven figures. Mad Chance's Andrew Lazar, DiCaprio, and Appian Way's Jennifer Davisson will produce. No announcement has been made regarding the cast.
Update: The free version of Hollywood Reporter's article is now active, and more information about the original manga and anime adaptation have been added.
Update 2: The Hollywood Reporter's article added a picture of the Akira character from Capcom's Rival School (Rival Gakuen) videogames. This Akira character is entirely unrelated to either Katsuhiro Otomo's manga or the planned live-action movies. Robinson directed "The Silent City" short with Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins' Scarecrow) and the Oscar-nominated "Fifty Percent Grey" animated short. Whitta was the editor-in-chief of PC Gamer magazine and the writer of the comic-book adaptation of the Death Jr. videogame.