Anime fans were getting hopeful about he notion of Thor: Ragnarok director taking on the live-action movie adaptation of Akira for Warner Bros. Well, now the hopeful have reason to be disappointed, and the fearful have reason to breathe easy: Taika Waititi's Akira is now on hold.
THR reported that Akira was no longer in development at WB as part of a report announcing that Waititi is returning to Marvel Studios to direct the upcoming Thor 4. However it wasn't just scheduling conflicts that put the brakes on Akira, as THR reports:
"That project, which was penciled for a May 21, 2021 release and had Waititi testing actors in a worldwide search for talent, is being put on pause indefinitely as the two projects' production dates began to bump up against one another. Script development concerns caused Akira to push back its shooting start and while some of those have been addressed, say sources, the dates were now too close for comfort.
It is unclear what is Warners' next step for Akira but the project now seems to be in flux. Several sources have said that Warners is keen on keeping Waititi involved for the long-term and hopes to see him pick up Akira after Thor 4."
However, Variety's Justin Kroll has stepped in to add this next bit, which seems to indicate Waititi's jump from Akria back to Thor was a major shock for Warner Bros.:
Justin Kroll (@krolljvar): "AKIRA update: Hearing from multiple close to the project who say the studio was not only surprised but a little caught off guard by the director's decision to jump from AKIRA to THOR 4, given how close AKIRA was to its own production"
Akira has been infamous for repeated movements toward live-action Hollywood adaptation, only to see those efforts fall apart in development. However, Waititi's version of the project seemed to be the one that would make it: it already had a release date, a production start date, as well as a first synopsis that caused a lot of controversy with longtime fans, due to its massive changes to the source material.1comments
And therein lies the inherent problem in all of these attempts to adapt Akira for a mainstream Hollywood audience: those who love and honor the source material never seem able to hold out against the whims and wishes of studio execs. Every version of the project we seen come up in the last decade has seemed to cause eventual "creative differences" between director and studio - and this case seems now different.
So, while Taika Waititi was the great fan hope to do Akira right, he too couldn't get the job done. Is that perhaps a sign that Hollywood should finally leave this anime classic alone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!