live-action akira

It looks like the live-action Akira is still a go, and that Taika Waititi is still the most likely candidate to direct. A recent story revealed that the Leonardo DiCaprio-produced film had just scored $18.5 million in tax credits, indicating some form of production is coming down the track, and fast. Hollywood has been trying to bring a live-action adaptation of the 1988 Japanese animated film (and the manga of the same name) for several years now.

According to Deadline, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way “has been allocated $18.5 million for a live action version of Akira from Warner Bros.” Of the news, Ravi Mehta, Warner Bros. Pictures EVP of physical production and finance, said: “We are thrilled with the opportunity to shoot Akira in California. The availability of top-notch crew members, plus the wide variety of location choices and predictable weather are second to none.”

All of this indicates that after several years in limbo, Akira is finally happening. Deadline also adds that Taika Waititi is still on board to direct. Waititi, who directed Thor: Ragnarok, and has the dark comedy Jojo Rabbit arriving this year, spoke about his plans for adapting Akira back in 2017. “I always felt like it was something that could do with a unique take,” Waititi said. “But, I don’t believe the world needs a remake of the anime, I think for me it would be, if there’s any real possibility for doing it, I would really just want to look at an adaptation of the books in a new way.”

Waititi also previously stressed that if he were to make an Akira movie, he wouldn’t whitewash the story:

“Asian teenagers would be the way to do it for me and probably no, not, like no name, I mean sort of unfound, untapped talent. Yeah, I’d probably want to take it a bit back more towards the books.”

Written by Katsuhiro Otomo, who also directed the animated film adaptation from 1988, Akira is set in an alternate 2019, 31 years the Japanese government dropped a nuclear bomb on Tokyo. Here’s the synopsis:

Welcome to Neo-Tokyo, built on the ashes of a Tokyo annihilated by a blast of unknown origin that triggered World War III. The lives of two streetwise teenage friends, Tetsuo and Kaneda, change forever when paranormal abilities begin to waken in Tetsuo, making him a target for a shadowy agency that will stop at nothing to prevent another catastrophe like the one that leveled Tokyo. At the core of the agency’s motivation is a raw, all-consuming fear of an unthinkable, monstrous power known only as Akira.

Warner Bros. bought the rights to make a live-action Akira back in 2002, but have struggled to get the film off the ground. At one point, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen director Stephen Norrington was set to helm the film. Other potential directors considered, or at least mentioned, included Allen and Albert Hughes, Christopher Nolan, George Miller, Jaume Collet-Serra and Justin Lin. Before Waititi became involved, Jordan Peele was mentioned as a potential director, but Peele passed on the project.

There’s no word still on when Akira will hit theaters, but this tax credit news all but ensures it’s happening. Per the Deadline story, “Akira itself is estimated to generate $43 million in wages to 200 below-the line crew members and more than 5,000 extras during its 71 days of filming.”

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