The latest news on the planned live-action version of Katsuhiro Otomo’s anime masterpiece Akira has actor Leonardo DiCaprio teaming with Warner Bros. on a possible two-part saga. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie will be directed by Ruairi Robinson, who made the Oscar-nominated 2001 animated short Fifty Percent Gray.
DiCaprio is on board to produce Akira through his production company, Appian, along with Andrew Lazar and his Mad Chance. Scribe Gary Whitta is adapting the story, which was first published as a manga graphic novel in 1988. Warner Bros. snatched up the rights years ago and had various producers and directors attached before shelving the project and letting the rights expire. Robinson’s vision for the film reportedly prompted the studio to push forward.
Otomo’s influential animated Akira takes place in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic city named New Tokyo, where a young member of a biker gang learns to wield his destructive telepathic powers through a government experiment. The live-action take, which will surely involve a lot of visual effects work, will be set in New Manhattan.
Otomo, who went on to helm the critically acclaimed 2004 animated feature Steam Boy, is involved as an exec producer on the new version of Akira, with co-financing coming from Legendary Pictures. Greg Silverman is overseeing for Warner Bros., which is looking at a summer 2009 release.