A live-action Akira is like a unicorn that no one can catch. It is out there somewhere, but no one seems able to pin it down.
Back in 2002, Warner Brothers acquired the rights to create a live-action version of Akira for a seven-figure sum, but since then nothing has really happened. As many as five writers and ten directors have been attached, but they have all fizzled out. I seem to remember that Matt Damon was involved a few years back.
In 2017, Warner Brothers announced that Taika Waititi was going to make it happen, with a release date of 2021… which you will have noticed is this year. However, Thor: Love and Thunder was announced and Akira got pushed back, again.
In a recent interview with Wired, Waititi has said about the live action version:
“I’m still trying [to make it]. I don’t wanna give up on that.”
If you know Akira, you will know it will need a big budget, the animation is on an epic scale and the special effects are outstanding, even for animation.
James Gunn recently mentioned the adaptation, claiming Waititi pulled out of The Suicide Squad, after Akira got ‘greenit’. Gunn said:
“I actually thought about Taika for another role and I offered it to him and he said: ‘I don’t know.’ He was working on Akira at the time, and he said: ‘I had to give you my answer in like two weeks.’ He totally wanted to do it. It was one of the other superheroes. And he said that he wanted to do it and then Akira got greenlit and it was happening.”
Shortly after that, Akira fell through again leaving Watititi free to play The Rat Catcher in The Suicide Squad. Waititi himself has previously said a while back now:
“The whole thing went on hold. We had to keep pushing the dates, and it encroached on the Thor [Love and Thunder] dates, which were immovable. So Akira ended up shifting two years down the track. So I’m not sure if even in two years I’d be – I don’t know what I’m doing in f*****g two days … I think eventually [Akira] will happen. I’m just not sure if I’ll be doing it.”
Waititi is also down to write and direct a Star Wars movie and working on a Time Bandits TV series, not to mention a reboot of Flash Gordon.
I think it was Douglas Adams saying about The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy movie:
‘Making a movie in Hollywood, is like trying to cook a steak by getting 20 people to blow on it’.
Even if Waititi still wants to make Akira, with all his other projects on the go it’s still going to be a few years before we get to see it.