DiCaprio Plans Live-Action Akira Films

Anime & manga classic “Akira” is finally getting the American live-action feature film treatment at Warner Bros. Pictures says the trades.

Leonardo DiCaprio and his Appian Way company will produce the new version which moves the action to “New Manhattan,” a city rebuilt by Japanese money after being destroyed 31 years earlier.

“Akira” originated in 1988 as a manga and then as an acclaimed animated film. Its mature themes and cutting-edge animation paved the way for anime appreciation in Western pop culture.

The original story was set in a neon-lit futuristic post-nuclear war “New Tokyo” in 2019 where a teen biker gang member is subjected to a government experiment which unleashes his latent powers. The gang’s leader must find a way to stop the ensuing swathe of destruction.

Directors Stephen Norrington and Pitof were previously attached to the film which never got off the ground in the past. Warners let the rights lapse, but picked them up again when director Ruairi Robinson (“The Silent City”) approached them with the idea of doing the story as a two-part epic.

Gary Whitta is writing the new adaptations, each of which will based on three volumes of the six-volume original graphic novel. A Summer 2009 release is being targeted for the first film.