Hollywood has been trying to adapt 1988’s seminal anime film Akira to live-action for a long time, and its years in development hell have imparted no small sense of caution that it would actually happen. Still, things seemed to be looking up for it recently with Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi attached to direct and a 2021 release date set. Nevertheless, there is a flip side to today’s exciting news about Taika Waititi returning to direct Thor 4, because Akira has now been put on hold.
Despite looking closer to happening than perhaps it ever has, Warner Bros.’ Akira adaptation has now been put on hold indefinitely, as sources told Variety. Production on the adaptation of the beloved anime was set to begin this fall in advance of a May 21, 2021 release date. But the production dates of Akira and Thor 4 bumped up against one another. That didn’t allow for any wiggle room and now Akira has presumably been removed from the calendar.
With Akira so close to production, it was reportedly surprising for those at Warner Bros. that Taika Waititi decided to go direct Thor 4, with the news possibly catching the studio off guard. Warner Bros. had delayed the production start date on Akira to give Taika Waititi time to find the right talent for his film. The director had been meeting with young Japanese actors for the two lead roles.
Variety also reports that there may have been creative disagreements between Taika Waititi and the studio over Akira. What the nature of those disagreements were, be it casting or the kind of budgetary concerns that have derailed the adaptation in the past, is unclear. However, Warner Bros. is still hoping that Akira can go back into production once Taika Waititi has finished filming Thor 4, but that remains to be seen.
This paints quite the interesting picture and I will be curious to see if we hear more about what went in to Taika Waititi’s decision-making here and if he actually intends on coming back around to Akira after Thor 4. I think many of us believed that Thor 4 was a possibility, but thought that Waititi would get to it after Akira. So I wonder if Marvel’s timetable forced his hand or if he thought he could manage both, or if the reported creative disagreements, whatever they were, led to him prioritizing the Marvel film.
Those creative disagreements couldn’t have been too bad on Warner Bros.’ end if the studio didn’t get another director for the film and is still hoping for Taika Waititi to return to Akira post-Thor 4. While his attention will obviously be on Thor 4 in the immediate future, with any luck, the extra time will help Taika Waititi to nail down his vision for the anime-adaptation if he indeed plans on returning to direct it.
That said, this news is a bummer for those anime fans that were excited to see Akira get the live-action treatment and especially from a director like Taika Waititi. That may all still happen one day, but for now Akira suffers another setback in a long, long string of them. On the bright side, now we don't have to worry about seeing Akira and John Wick: Chapter 4 on the same weekend.
We’ll keep you updated on all the latest about Akira and Thor 4. While we wait for those films, check out our premiere guide to see what’s headed to theaters this year.