Varietyreports that Warner Bros has reclaimed the rights to Katsuhiro Otomo's six-volume graphic novel Akira after a spirited bidding war, and is planning to adapt the book into two live action films. The project is being put on the fast track, with the first film due to be released in summer 2009. Ruairi Robinson is set to direct a script by Gary Whitta, and Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way will produce with Andrew Lazar's Mad Chance (with a chance DiCaprio could star). The project was brought in by executive vice president Greg Silverman, who also supervised 300 and Batman Begins -- clearly, he has recognized that graphic novels equal box office gold.
The studio is hyping this as a cross between Blade Runner and City of God which is pretty amusing to me, and I only know the bare details of the story. Every sci-fi film is sold as a cross between something and Blade Runner. The setting has been changed from a post-apocalyptic New Toyko to a New Manhattan, which is not surprising, and probably not too disappointing. But what is bound to worry fans (besides the implication that it is about neo-noir street gangs) is that this will be Robinson's feature debut, having helmed only commercials and short films thus far. Is he up to the task? Sometimes having a newcomer for this sort of property is ideal, other times it suggests the newbie is just there as a studio puppet.
And is it possible to compress six novels into two films? I have never read the graphic and have seen very little of the 1988 anime, so you'll have to tell me. All I know is, it has absolutely nothing in common with Blade Runner.