Jaume Collet-Serra, who directed "Unknown," "Orphan" and "House of Wax" for Warner Bros., has won the coveted gig of directing the first live-action version of the fanboy favorite "Akira," TheWrap has confirmed.
The original "Akira," based on Katsuhiro Otomo's revered 6-volume graphic novel, is an enormously popular cult film that considered a landmark in Japanese animation.
The English-language version has had three directors. First, Ruairi Robinson was to direct, and then Albert Hughes. On Thursday, the studio confirmed that Collet-Serra has signed on.
Since Hughes left in May, Warners has looked at several directors for the cyberpunk sci-fi film. As TheWrap previously reported, filmmakers Mark and Michael Polish talked with the studio about it.
The movie also has had a succession of writers: Gary Whitta was attached, then Albert Torres, then Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby and, most recently, Steve Kloves.
Filmmakers have described "Akira" as "Blade Runner" meets "City of God." The original was set in the post-World War III Japanese city of New Tokyo. A member of a biker gang finds himself the subject of a military project that goes grotesquely wrong.
In Warners' Americanized version, New Tokyo is New Manhattan.
Warners has a funny history with the project. It had the rights, let them lapse and snagged them again for a seven-figure sum in a 2008 bidding war.
The studio has high hopes for the movie. Although it's budgeted at around $90 million — modest for a tentpole, Warners is looking at "Akira" as a potential franchise.
Early on, in fact, the studio wanted "Akira" would be the first of two parts. While the studio has not made a decision, executives there would like "Akira" to be a series.
Collet-Serra has delivered big for Warners. His 2005 "House of Wax," made for an estimated $40 million, grossed $68.7 million worldwide. His 2009 "Orphan" grossed $76.69 million worldwide. And his 2011 "Unknown," made for $30 million, grossed $130.78 million at the global box office.
The Spanish director is attached to "Harker," a Warners project about a Scotland Yard detective who searches for Dracula.
Andrew Lazar and Appian Way's Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran are producing. Collet-Serra previously directed the studio's "Unknown," "Orphan" and "House of Wax" for the studio.
Variety first reported the news.