Akira Live-Action Movie Director and Details

The once-promising live-action Akira movie from director Taika Waititi has been removed from Warner's release schedule.

Akira, the epochal 1988 manga-adapted anime feature, remains the gold standard when it comes to slick, stylish cyberpunk stories. However, Hollywood’s quest to adapt the Japanese pop culture phenomenon as a live-action movie has been defined by several starts and stops that go back to 2002, when Warner Bros. first acquired the rights.

Taika Waititi, the multi-faceted helmer of Thor: Ragnarok and the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder, was set to direct this most recent iteration of the movie project. However, the project’s prospects took a dramatic dive after a July report from Variety said that it was shelved indefinitely; a notion that, despite an October tease from Waititi, has come to fruition.

Akira Movie News

The Akira live-action movie project has once again been put in suspended animation (perhaps permanently).

Warner Bros. has officially taken the adaptation film off its release schedule, capping off a year that saw early speculation of its demise back in July (purportedly over creative differences between Warner and director Taika Waititi), only to be contradicted by a tease from Waititi, who implied that it had simply been backlogged. While the removal does complement Waititi’s claim, it’s nevertheless unclear if Warner has – as it’s done before over the past decade – temporarily shelved the project or if this represents the final nail in the coffin of this long-beleaguered attempt to bring the iconic manga and anime story to live-action form.  

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The tease in question from Waititi stemmed from comments made in October to IGN. With the report on the project’s shelving pointing to Waititi’s commitment to Marvel Studios to return and direct the 2021-scheduled fourth Thor film – later revealed to be titled Thor: Love and Thunder – the director implied that he’d simply put Akira on hold, stating:

“Unfortunately, the timing with Akira, because we’ve been working really hard on the script, we had to keep pushing the start date for the shoot. We ended up having to push it a couple weeks too far, which actually ate into the Thor schedule, because they were very close together. And that got pushed again and again, and it just got too far into the Thor schedule to be able to make it work. And my first commitment was to Marvel to make that film, so now I’ve kind of had to take Akira and sort of shift it around to the tail-end of Thor and move it down a couple of years.”

While the Akira movie’s chances have just gone down significantly, another attempt might occur several years down the line.

Akira Movie Release Date

Akira was (with the operative word being “was,”) scheduled to arrive on May 21, 2021.

The now-unfeasible 2021 release date would have put the live-action adaptation against some heavy genre competition, going head-to-head with Lionsgate’s John Wick: Chapter 4. – Just don’t lay a finger on his dog!

Akira Movie Details

Akira tells the story of rival gangs and psychic warfare in a post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo (which is to be reimagined as New Manhattan in the proposed Americanized version); a mythology that amalgamates future-set sci-fi with quasi-scientific mysticism to become a stunning, heavily-influential end product. One of the most recent nixed configurations for Akira, back in March 2017, had Jordan Peele on the project as a frontrunner to direct, coming off buzz generated from his directorial breakthrough, Get Out, but that went by the wayside as well.

Long before that, Warner’s the live-action film endeavors have languished in development hell for almost decades. Directors like George Miller, Christopher Nolan, Justin Lin, the Hughes Brothers and Jaume Collet-Serra have been involved at point or another, with Leonardo DiCaprio remaining a longtime supporter of the project, via his Appian Way shingle. Indeed, production almost got underway in Vancouver years back with a cast that included either Dane DeHaan and Michael Pitt in the lead role of Tetsuo, to be joined by Garrett Hedlund, Kristin Stewart, Ken Watanabe and Helena Bonham Carter.

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Now we’ll see if the colorful kiwi-bred stylings of Taika Waititi can finally get this project to the screen in a way that’s faithful to the original manga. Of course, he’s extremely busy these days. After achieving mainstream, Marvel-made, success from 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, Waititi – who tends to write and direct – has amassed quite the backlog, starting with October’s World War II comedy-drama, Jojo Rabbit, which will be followed by television work in the Star Wars universe on Disney+ series The Mandalorian, followed by the pilot episode for Apple’s Time Bandits revival series. On top of that, he’s overseeing FX’s season-renewed American serialized adaptation of his vampire-roommates comedy movie, What We Do in the Shadows.

Joseph Baxter is a contributor for Den of Geek and Syfy Wire. You can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter @josbaxter.