It looks like Warner Bros.’ long-developing adaptation of the graphic novel AKIRA is heating back up, this time with an extremely buzzworthy director. Deadline reports that THOR: RAGNAROK director Taika Waititi is now in talks to take the helm of the AKIRA remake, which takes place in a rebuilt New Manhattan and revolves around the leader of a biker gang.
The studio has been developing this project for a long time, with Ruairi Robinson originally attached to take the helm, followed by the Hughes Brothers with HARRY POTTER scribe Steve Kloves working on the screenplay. The Hughes Brothers departed, then Jaume Collet-Serra (THE SHALLOWS) became attached in 2011 and stuck with the project for the longest. His version actually came really close to fruition, with Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart in lead roles and Gary Oldman and Helena Bonham Carter eyed to join the ensemble. However, in January 2012 Warner Bros. put a halt on production and demanded more script development before moving forward into filming.
Collet-Serra eventually exited the project for good, and most recently we heard that Warner Bros. was courting Jordan Peele to make AKIRA his big GET OUT follow-up. Peele declined, however, opting instead to make another smaller scale original film for Blumhouse.
Waititi is an interesting choice here. He’s worked his way up to studio blockbusters having first broken out with the mockumentary WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS and then showing he could handle a more sizable budget with HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE. All seems to have gone well on THOR: RAGNAROK, and it’s curious to see that he’s interested in going to Warner Bros. to work on a very different kind of blockbuster.
AKIRA still may be a ways off as Waititi is next set to direct Fox Searchlight’s World War II dramedy JOJO RABBIT, which starts filming in the spring. He’s also co-directing the stop-motion animated Michael Jackson movie BUBBLES.
It’ll also be interesting to see what script Warner Bros. is working with here. In 2012, Toby Kebbell criticized the then-script for the AKIRA remake, which he said was more a remake of the animated movie than a straight adaptation of the comics. That script also reconceived Tetsuo and Kaneda as brothers.
The plan is still to adapt all six comics in two feature films, so it’s unclear if Waititi would direct both or if he’d just do one. This is all still very early days and this project has a history of, well, not happening, so proceed with caution.