Leonardo DiCaprio may be getting fitted for a red leather jacket soon as his production company, Appian Way, is developing a live action remake of the classic anime feature Akira for Warner Brothers.
The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Gary Whitta, who wrote the Hughes Brothers upcoming The Book Of Eli, has been hired to transform the futuristic story of a teenage bike gang member who is subjected by the government to an experiment which gives him uncontrolable powers into aworkable live-action film. Whitta has his work cut out for him. A live-action Akira has been in development at Warners for a long time with producers like Jon Peters and Basil Iwanyk and directors Stephen Norrington and Pitof taking a shot at the material.
Variety is also chiming in on the story, stating that the adaptation will actually be two films, with the first fasttracked for a summer 2009 release. The films setting of Neo-Tokyo, a city rebuilt after a nuclear explosion years earlier that figures into the plot, is being changed to New Manhattan. Ruairi Robinson is set to direct.
I first saw Akira in the fall of 1990 on a bootleg video with no English dubbing or subtitles. The friend who brought it to my college apartment sat there and tried to fill in the backstory on who was who, but there was no need. Director Katsuhiro Otomo’s visual sense conveyed the story in a way that never relied on dialogue to explain relationships and plot. I’ve gone back to the film several times since, including seeing it digitally projected in New York City a few years back, and it never fails to impress.
Can a live action version live up to the standard set by the original?