A live-action “Akira” is finally coming to the big screen.
“Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi is set to direct the remake of the Japanese anime film that is being produced by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions and released by Warner Bros.
The event film will open on May 21, 2021.
Filmmakers have tried for nearly two decades to make an adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s ’80s manga series and the animated 1988 cult film “Akira,” dating as far back as when Warner Bros. first acquired the rights in 2002. Justin Lin, Jaume Collett-Sera and Jordan Peele were among the directors who were approached for the project. And Waititi, the New Zealand director behind “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” “What We Do in the Shadows” and the upcoming “Jojo Rabbit,” had been circling the project for years.
Speculation perked up that the project was officially happening when in April the California Film Commission revealed that “Akira” was eligible for a tax credit for filming in the state.
“Akira” takes place in a dystopian near-future in a city called Neo-Tokyo, which was built after the old Tokyo was destroyed by a psychic attack. Enter a pair of teenage bikers, Tetsuo and Kaneda, who become the top target of the government when Tetsuo suddenly develops psychic powers. Soon, the bikers are on the run not just from the government, but from Akira, the powerful psychic behind the first psychic explosion that destroyed Tokyo.
DiCaprio is producing on behalf of his Appian Way along with Jennifer Davisson.
In an interview in 2018, Waititi said he was still trying to wrap his head around what he wanted to do with the remake, and that he was committed to adapting the six books on which the film is based rather than remake the animated film itself.