It has been a year and a half since we broke the news exclusively here on B-D – and about a year since THR confirmed (without credit of course) – that Ruairi Robinson would be making his directorial debut on the live-action adaptation of Akira, a massive two-part apocalypse story that was being produced by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Warner Bros. Pictures. Sad news comes in this weekend as we have learned that not only has Robinson left the project, but Tetsuo and Kaneda’s adventure is “dead as a doornail,” a report we’ve confirmed with two separate sources. I can only hope it gets revived in the near future as this could have been one of the coolest effin’ movies ever.
“Akira” originated in 1988 as a manga and then as an animated film co-written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. The 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.
With its mature themes and cutting-edge animation, “Akira” was a milestone movie in anime and even animation circles, and led the way for anime making inroads into Western pop culture in the 1990s.
The new story was to move the action to “New Manhattan,” a city rebuilt by Japanese money and was to hit theaters THIS summer.
“Akira” would have marked the feature directorial debut for Robinson who was nominated for a best animated short Oscar in 2001 for a sci-fi comedy called “Fifty Percent Grey.” He also wrote and directed a sci-fi short titled “The Silent City” (watch it at BDTV), Robinson is repped by CAA and 3 Arts Entertainment.