Warner Bros. first acquired the rights to adapt the post-apocalyptic manga classic Akira all the way back in 2002, and now Deadline reports that they're finally moving ahead with Taika Waititi attached to direct. Akira first began as a manga in 1982 and ultimately lasted six volumes through 1990, while series creator Katsuhiro Otomo also directed the seminal cyberpunk anime film of the same name in 1988. The live-action remake is currently scheduled to hit theaters May 14, 2021.
Thor: Ragnarok and What We Do in the Shadows director Taika Waititi was first reported to be in discussions with Warner Bros. in 2017, although before that a number of other directors had been attached. Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller and Christopher Nolan were both in contention for the project at one point. Waititi's Akira will be produced by Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way Productions.
Waititi previously expressed his intent not to whitewash the characters from the film and manga, something previous anime and manga adaptions such as Ghost in the Shell and Death Note fell victim to. Production is reportedly scheduled to kick off sometime this year and will last approximately 71 days. When Akira releases in 2021 it will open the same day as the recently announced John Wick: Chapter 4.
The story is expected to follow the manga closely, as Waititi explained in 2018 that he was still wrapping his head around adapting the classic. "What I wanted to do was an adaptation of the books, ’cos a lot of people are like, 'Don’t touch that film!' and I’m like, 'I’m not remaking the film, I want to go back to the book,'" he explained. "A lot of the people freaking out haven’t even read the books, and there are six gigantic books to go through. It’s so rich."
Before Akira, however, Waititi will release his dark comedy drama Jojo Rabbit on Oct. 18, 2019. The film is directed and written by Waititi, and stars Roman Griffin Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Thomasin McKenzie, Sam Rockwell, and Rebel Wilson among others. Waititi will also have a small role in Jojo Rabbit himself as Adolf Hitler.