EXCLUSIVE: Akira is revving back up, with Warner Bros negotiating with Taika Waititi, the New Zealand-born director and actor who helmed Thor: Ragnarok. Pic is a live action version of anime artist Katsuhiro Otomo’s 6-volume graphic novel. The story takes place in the rebuilt New Manhattan where a leader of a biker gang saves his friend from a medical experiment. Mad Chance’s Lazar is producing with Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson. The picture has been a big priority since Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures acquired it for 7-figures from manga publisher Kodansha. The intention has always been to make 2 films, each covering 3 books in the series. Akira was first adapted for the screen in 1988.
The picture got close several times. Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Book of Eli scribe Gary Whitta wrote a script which originally had Ruairi Robinson aboard to direct. The Hughes Brothers and Jaume Collet-Serra were among the filmmakers who sparked to it. It got closest to a start date several years ago, until it closed the Vancouver production office, the studio let lapse test options deals it had with Dane DeHaan and Michael Pitt,. who had been competing for the lead role of Tetsuo, and were going to star alongside Garrett Hedlund, Kristin Stewart, and potentially Ken Watanabe and Helena Bonham Carter. It halted.
Waititi’s booked next to direct Jojo Rabbit, a WWII dramedy that is set up at Fox Searchlight with a spring start date. Waititi wrote the script. CAA and Manage-ment rep him.