Yesterday, the Hollywood Reporterdropped the news that Warner Brothers has snapped up the rights to make a two-part, live-action version of the Japanese Anime classic Akira. Not only that, but producing the film will be superstar Leonaro DiCaprio. In addition, first-time feature helmer Ruairi Robinson will be taking on the directing duties and Gary Whitta is writing the screenplay.
But wait, there’s more.
Today, it was confirmed by Aint it Cool News that DiCaprio will, in addition to producing, star in the live-action film as the lead character Kaneda. Also confirmed is that Joseph Gordon-Levitt, soon to be seen in the upcoming live-action G.I. Joe, will join him in the cast as Tetsuo.
In case you’re not familiar with Akira, it originally came out in 1988 as a manga and then as an animated film co-written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. The story, set in a futuristic post-nuclear war "New Tokyo" in the year 2019, concerns a teen biker gang member called Tetsuo who is subjected to government experiments which unleash his hidden and terrifying powers. Kaneda, the gang’s leader and Tetsuo’s best friend, must then find a way to stop the ensuing destruction caused by his friend, even if it means killing him.
I first saw the film in the early ’90s and was blown away. At the time it was like no other animation I had ever seen and I’ve always secretly harbored a desire to see it as a big-budget, live-action feature. I guess I’ll get my wish. Hopefully, that will be a good thing.
Warner Brothers is looking at a Summer 2009 release for the first film.
Chris Ullrich is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. In addition to ComicMix, he is a contributor to some of the most popular entertainment sites on the net, including The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW), Download Squad, Cinematical, Comic Book Resources and LAist, where he has served as Technology Editor.