Hollywood version of ‘Akira’ gets 2021 release date

Taika Waititi discusses his experiences of racism in a magazine interview. (AFP pic)

After being on the cards for years, Hollywood’s live-action version of the “Akira” manga will soon be coming to the big screen. The movie, helmed by Marvel’s “Thor: Ragnarok” director, Taika Waititi, is slated for US theatrical release May 21, 2021. It will land on the same day as the fourth “John Wick” movie, following the current box office hit “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.”

Back in April, the “Akira” project was awarded an US$18 million (RM75.5 million) tax credit from California’s incentives program, on the condition of beginning production within 180 days. Warner Bros. has not yet said exactly when Taika Waititi will start filming, although things should logically get underway by the end of 2019.

Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, “Akira” has been in the pipeline for more than 15 years. A first more Americanized version, scheduled to star Garrett Hedlund, was abandoned in 2012. Taika Waititi is expected to opt for a more faithful adaptation of the original work and will reportedly be casting Asian actors in the movie’s roles.

The manga, written and illustrated by Katsuhiro Otomo from 1982 to 1990, is set in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo. The story notably follows Tetsuo, a teen who discovers he has powerful telekinetic abilities that threaten the world. The only person who seems able to stop the dangerous, all-powerful teen is his childhood friend and former gang leader, Kaneda.

The manga was made into an anime feature in 1988.

“Thor: Ragnarok” director Taika Waititi’s comedy-drama “Jojo Rabbit,” starring Scarlett Johansson and Rebel Wilson, opens Oct 18, 2019, in the US. He will also be one of the directors working on “The Mandalorian,” a series set in the “Star Wars” universe.