Warner Brothers has scheduled Taika Waititi‘s live-action adaptation of ‘Akira’ for release on May 21, 2021.  This is the date previously occupied by WB’s animated ‘Super Pets’ movie, which was just moved yesterday to May 22, 2022.  This puts ‘Akira’ in direct competition with Lionsgate’s ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’.  This past weekend, ‘John Wick: Chapter 3’ had a massive opening, and took the #1 spot, dethroning ‘Avengers: Endgame’.


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Leonardo DiCaprio will produce ‘Akira’ through his Appian Way imprint, but will not star.  A live-action remake of the classic 1988 anime has been in the works for years, with SO MANY writers and directors attached, or at least rumored to be.  You may recall that at one point, Keanu Reeves was in talks to star, but he ultimately passed, as did Brad Pitt, James Franco, and Ryan Gosling.  Reportedly, other Caucasians that have been considered for the film include Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, and James McAvoy as Tetsuo, and Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Joaquin Phoenix, and Justin Timberlake as Kaneda.

Obviously, none of them is Asian and they aren’t teens (nor could they pass), as the characters in the original anime and manga are.  But it seems that Waititi is deviating from the source material in other ways.  Instead of Neo-Tokyo, his ‘Akira’ is set in Neo-Manhattan.  Kaneda is a bar owner, signifying that he is obviously not a teenager.  Also, rather than being just friends, Kaneda and Tetsuo are brothers.  Waititi has also stated that his film will not be as deadly serious as the original anime movie.

But Waititi has stated that he hopes to cast Asian or Asian American actors.  After the success of last year’s ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, it seems that American audiences will support a movie with an all-Asian or Asian American cast.

Katsuhiro Otomo’s original anime began publication in 1982.  The anime adaptation was released in 1988, and helped bring anime to a wider international audience, including in the US.

Waititi is wrapping up production on his upcoming comedy ‘Jo Jo Rabbit’, and is working on the Apple TV+ series ‘Time Bandits’.  But with this new May 2021 release date, it looks as though he’ll need to get cracking on ‘Akira’ within the next year or so.

What are your thoughts on this adaptation so far?


Source: The Hollywood Reporter