Warner Bros' Live-Action Akira Movie is Dead as a Doornail!

June 14, 2009
Source: Bloody Disgusting


Good news or bad? That's up to you. It was only a year ago when it was officially announced that Warner Brothers and Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way were developing a live-action version of the anime Akira with first-time Irish director Ruairi Robinson. So now its been 15 months and we haven't heard much - but that's because its been struggling internally at the studio. Bloody Disgusting now confirms via "two separate sources" that the project is "dead as a doornail." Robinson is apparently also off of the project. When it was announced last year, the plan was to actually have shot and ready to debut in theaters this summer.

The studio fought for the rights in a bidding war in early 2008, as they had let go of them a few years earlier. The project was being spearheaded by Warner Bros. exec Greg Silverman, who previously brought 300 and Batman Begins to the studio. It was described as "Blade Runner meets City of God" which was more than enough to make me excited. Fans were in an uproar, however, because they were going to move the setting from Tokyo to what was being called "New Manhattan," a new metropolis that was rebuilt after being destroyed 31 years ago. I even heard that Zack Snyder was approached to direct (after 300) but declined.

Even being a fan of the original anime (which just got an awesome Blu-Ray re-release back in February), I was still looking forward to seeing this. Sure it would be a huge departure from that anime, but word is they were going to go all the way back to Katsuhiro Otomo's graphic novel anyway. Just imagining the kind of visuals and the incredible world that Otomo brought us back in 1988 converted to live-action would be amazing to see. I'd still love to see this get made one day, but it better be done right. If that means we have to wait another 10 years to see it done right, just like with Watchmen, then I'm fine waiting until then.

Find more posts in Movie News, Opinions

Discover more around the web:

  • Guy
    I'm sure with the recent box-office pseudo failing of Akira, it would spell doom for the quality of this film had it been done now. I'm sure they would've cut it to a PG13. Maybe that's why they didn't go ahead with it, because I can't see any way of that working. Give it a few more years, I'm sure they'll try again, hopefully they can do it justice.
    pseudo failing of "Watchmen" is what I meant to say.
  • agreed with 2 (and 3) This actually made me kind of happy. And I'll go ahead and also say, while I'm at it, the further we get from the original comic, the less interesting it is. I think the animated movie isn't that hot compared to the comic, and I think a live action would probably be even worse.
  • Tir na Nog
    I hope this doesn't finish Ruairi's career.He's got a lot of talent {Silent city},and I can see him making some great movies down the line.I wonder if he regrets turning down other projects over the last 2 years to prioritise Akira.What would he have done with Terminater Salvation.McG's version was entertaining but not much more.
  • @1 lol my thoughts exactly. Was really looking forward to this. I was sure the production team behind this adaptation were going to do justice to the source material...especially with the reference "Bladerunner meets City of God". Oh well, hopefully in my life time. Anyone know how Spielberg's Ghost in the Shell project is coming along?
  • Dresden
    Just as long as DiCrapio's not attached to a classic Anime, I'm happy.
  • TediusTed
    Whew! Leave this alone Hollywood
  • Trevor Davis
    It probably would have flopped anyhow. All-time favorite animation doesn't deserve to get screwed. I can't think anyone who would really take this project seriously? At least directorially.
  • Nate
    I was kinda disappointed when I heard the Gordon-Levitt and DiCaprio weren't playing, Tetsuo and Kaneda, respectively. The longer, the better I guess. @6 Yeah I was wondering the same thing. Spielberg picked up the Battle Angel anime too.
  • xerxex
    well thats sad, just watch the anime...but DiCaprio seemed to be really trying to make this possible. with the success of Watchmen (in my eyes) I had hoped that this was going to happen.
  • SillySil
    I agree with #7. 😀
  • Caleb
  • Jeep-Fu
    As a huge fan of Akira I'm glad this project is dead. I've seen what hollywood does with Japanese born stories (Dragonball: Evolution and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li ring a bell?) and I don't want to see the same thing happening to Akira.
  • nemof
    Oh thank God! That makes me extremely pleased. Honestly, if it's not done in Japanese in Neo-Tokyo with Japanese actors, it's not Akira. They would have mutilated it.
  • Dan W
    I'm glad and sad at the same time. I'm kind of split. I loved the original Anime and I always wanted to read the novel. But I also would have liked to see a live action take on it and I just had a feeling it would have been sweet. Oh well.
  • movieboy
    American film industry dont know how to make a good Anime work well on film its been proven with these movies below Guyver = FLOPPED Speed Racer = FLOPPED Dragonball: Evolution = FLOPPED Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li =FLOPPED i know Street Fighter is a video game but who remembers the manga of Street Fighter that was kick-ass. so Akria is dead as a doornail so whats going to happen with Ninja Scroll cause Leonardo DiCaprio got the rights to that too.
  • Boris
    Thank you GOD! I would've watched it no doubt, but I think any attempt at a remake, live-action or not, would fail. The origianl cannot be beat!
  • DoomCanoe
    woh #17 Speed Racer kicked a bunch of ass. i completely agree with the rest of what you said though.
  • movieboy
    @#19 Speed Racer is a FLOP the only good thing about it was the cgi apart from that it was not good its one of the largest recorded losses of all time, along with Stealth, Cutthroat Island, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, The Golden Compass, Waterworld, The Alamo, Alexander, and Around the World in 80 Days. yeah Speed Racer kicked a bunch of ass you mean Speed Racer kicked its own ass
  • teh
    This is bad news.
  • w00t!!!
    YEA!!! Now if this can just happen with Cowboy Bebop
  • Jasonmd2020
    Proof of a benevolent God right there. Wonder what this means for Speildberg's development of Ghost In The Shell?
  • David Banner
    This is very good news. Now let's hope it does get made, but in Japan, without Leo in the near future
  • xerxex
    why all the hate for Dicaprio?
  • mrmr
    for the better. hollywood fucks shit up.
  • somwerbtnblungrn
    I don't get what's wrong with Hollywood doing a SERIOUS work of anime into a real movie. Akira is akin to the Batman comics - an adult oriented series with proper plots & all. I am a semi-diehard manga fan, but to compare this to the Dragonball, Speed Racer & Street Fighter movies, is pointless & stupid. The thing is the aforementioned manga - yes could be an R series, but for the wrong issues (human decapitation, nudity & crap joke most of the time, Bulma & Roshi sexual banter towards each other is an example) , these are not a thinking-man manga they are more of a family or children friendly mangas, not even considered an adult manga (no not the hentai type), therefore its translation to movies will be funny, or "comical" to say the least. American fanboys are too linear in their point of view, it should this & that, the pictures should be how it was shown in the frames of the manga, if not the, movie is a disaster. Speed Racer, by itself is a family oriented manga - but people started thinking it was a Kick-Ass movie, therefore it suffered not by the word of mouth, but by the wrong interpretations about it - I also blame the actors & the marketing wizard who churned out those tag lines, kids enjoyed & so did some non-expecting-a-kick-ass-movie adults. The question is what if a decent writer, director, producer & actor were to handle it? Just like Batman, it was killed & turned comical by Joel Schumacher, but Nolan reinvented it, plus stars like Ledger & previously, Nicholson; recreated one of its most famous character - giving depth to the storyline & all. Its a big "WHAT IF?" Even though we could say that Hollywood turned the occasional thrash, the what if it is brilliant movie or created a good background/effect (similar to what Burton did to the first dark Batman movies). This constant whining by many leave Hollywood to rehash old movies or just use old formulas to cave in to the so-called fanboys. It is sad, a unique Akira translation would have increase the fanbase of the manga or at least could open the gateway or template for a proper Japanese manga translation & shown many the other unique Japanese manga/anime that is beyond Pokemon, Street Fighter & the lots. Sorry for the long post/rant, I really want to see what Hollywood might do with Akira. Well its will be along wait then. Yeah final question, any development on Cowboy Beebop - imdb showed it as in-devopment only.
  • Tether
    I was actually looking forward to a live action Akira. Part of me worried about the quality, but I also felt that it would be nice to have an adaptation of the original work. Worst case scenario Hollywood screws the pooch, we still have the anime and original comic storyline to go back to.
  • snickers
    Good news.
    They should just leave this alone, Hollwood needs to show us that they can make some more seious movies before touching this. Yeah its a Anime, but its a serious one that leveled the playing field when it arrived, they would probably make it more Animated than the anime did. All bubblegum and what not. Pleaaaaaase dont make this Hollywood, Not yet!!!
  • lego
    thank god. ghost in the shell and bebop were the 1s I'm waiting for. gits esp. and even tho these live action remakes maybe bad or horrible, i'd still love to see them just for the sake of seeing them. as long as they learn from their mistakes.
  • monster
    oh thank GOD.
  • CaptainFelix
    Appian Way is the Place Where Projects Go To Die so this is no surprise. Ninja Scroll will be next.
  • D
  • dave13
    Praise the anime gods. One less anime destroyed. and one less 80s remake!
  • daniel
    yeah they can bring it in another 10years maybe the fx will be alote better and they bringing movies from the 80 and from the 70 every classics cause the fx is even alote better like look it transformors the live action movie they should had made dragonballZ alote better like hardcore like kong fu hustle and the should make a remake of evil dead one cause the fx was old if u seen the old one it was good scary verycool u saw the remakeing of the hulk it was pretty good if the had a tv show
  • Oh JEBUS
    @22 I - COMPLETELY - agree. I'd rather have the live-action "Cowboy Bebop" project dropped than see Keanu Reeves play Spike Spiegel. Eff that shit. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
  • zetsu
    maybe akira being dead as a doornail is a good fucking thing,just remember how speedracer & dragonball turned out they where shit,unless the film was made by japanese director (same as the anime)with a full japanese cast it maybe good.i don't think it would work with an american director or cast.
  • lando
    This is another one they should leave alone. One of the many beauties of the graphic novel is that it can contain so much more than a movie! That is evident when you see watchmen (a great attempt). The Akira books had such a developed and involved background story, so many rich characters that to be honest, the anime didnt really cover that well..a live action treatment would be best perhaps as a mini-series or a few movies..not one! leave it alone..until movie serials come back, you cant pull it off in one flic!
  • XxcamlostxX
    Chill out #27
  • Hsa
    I am honestly not surprised. The concept seem pretty nice though.
  • travis vs.
    Akira was based in NEO TOKYO not Neo Manhattan. That new premise has always bugged me about this potential release. Even though Akira is set in 2019. It has an obvious undertone of pain caused by destruction of Hiroshima Nagasaki. That's the appeal of the movie. If they can't capture that, they'll ruin the idea of what the movie was about. Too bad this live action was scrapped. Good or bad I would have paid money to see it. To my knowledge, this has been the second failed attempt since the original came out. Give me a few million- I'll remake the hell out of it. "Cleans your bodies upon the flame our salvation is near!"




Alex's Top 10 - 2016
1. La La Land
2. Paterson
3. Arrival
4. Captain Fantastic
5. 20th Cent. Women
6. Pete's Dragon
7. Jackie
8. Kubo & Two Strings
9. Everybody Wants
10. Wilderpeople
Click Here for Thoughts

Jeremy's Top 10 - 2016
1. Moonlight
2. The Handmaiden
3. High-Rise
4. Elle
5. Arrival
6. Kubo & Two Strings
7. 13th
8. Jackie
9. Toni Erdmann
10. The Witch
Click Here for Thoughts


Subscribe to our feed or daily newsletter:
Follow Alex's main profile on twitter:
For the news posts only, follow this acct:
Add our feed to your Feedly: follow us in feedly