Anime on the big screen: Upcoming live-action anime adaptations


ALBATOR: See "Captain Harlock".

AKIRA: Stephen Norrington (LXG) will direct a live-action adaptation of the Japanese manga Akira for Warner Bros. James Robinson and Stephen Norrington are the screenwriters and Jon Peters (Batman, Batman Returns) will produce. The project seems to be on hold and no date has been announced.

2008.02.30: It’s been rumored for years and it’s finally coming:  Katsuhiro Otomo’s legendary Japanese sci-fi epic Akira is soon to be remade as a pair of live action films. Leonardo DiCaprio is producing. Ruari Robinson - who declined to answer my emails when I first heard these rumors a month or two back, silly man - will direct.  The setting moves from New Tokyo to New Manhattan, with each film based on three volumes of the original six volume manga which means that despite the location shift for North American audiences, the longer run time means that these films may hold closer to the source material than did the Japanese anime version.  The first film is due in 2009.

ASTRO BOY: Sony is developing an ASTRO live action movie. Eric Leighton, who co-directed Disney's "Dinosaur", is slated to direct. The feature should be coming out in may 2005.

2008.02.28: Imagi Animation Studios announced that Freddie Highmore will be providing the voice of Astro Boy in the upcoming CG-animated motion picture adapted from Osamu Tezuka’s manga of the same name.  The young english actor has build a solid track record playing the wide eye wonder kid in many family oriented films, the most recent is The Spiderwick Chronicles.  He is also no stranger to voice acting with roles in Arthur and the Invisibles and The Golden Compass.  Not a bad choice, I think he would fit perfectly as the heroic robot boy. 

Warner Bros. Pictures plans to release Astro Boy worldwide in 2009.

BATTLE ANGEL ALITA: This one's merely speculation; we know that James Cameron is working on a secret 3D science fiction film using the same 3D technology he used in Ghost of the Abyss. Is it Battle Angel? Nobody knows but from what he told, I'd bet my money on it:

"Battle Angel is a very real possibility, and that's the film that I fully intend to direct, that I *will* direct. the issue is will it be the next film, or will it be the one after the next film? That's really all there is to it at this point. We've done a tremendous amount of design for the film, we're fine-tuning the script, it's just a matter of time.", says Cameron. "What I like about it is that when we first meet Alita she's very young, she's sort of almost pre-pubescent in a way, and she actually matures throughout the story. I like that, that the development of her mind actually affects her physicality. There's a lot of really great things about it, and there's a lot of things that you wonder whether the artist really intended them or not that I read into it, and so I think it'll be a good fusion of what Kashiro created and how I would do things."

"The manga is very episodic and very discordant. it's not internally consistent, meaning sometimes she looks like one thing and has one set of abilities, and at the whim of Kashiro he'll go off on a whole different tangent. It needs to be fused and focused and given a centralised storyline. But the character will be very, very true to Alita as she is in the manga."

"Motorball might find its way more into the second film.I definitely want to do more than one film. I want to create a world and a character that can go through at least one more film, possibly more. And that's not just for the classic financial reasons, it's just that I think there's a possibility for a real mythology here, so I feel that this is a good canvas to do something big that's got more scope."

BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE: Director Ronny Yu told SCI FI Wire that he has optioned the rights to the Japanese anime for a live-action movie. The anime tells the story of a vampire hunter on a military base in Japan.

Update: According to KBS Global, the lead role for Ronny Yu's Blood: The Last Vampire film adaptation has been casted and it’s none other than the always charming actress, Jeon Ji Hyun. Widely known throughout Asia for playing comedic characters in Windstruck and My Sassy Girl, she is now taking on a totally different direction in the role as Saya, the half-human/half-vampire warrior. This will mark her debut into the U.S. film market and as such, she is required her to use English dialogue only. She is currently taking English lesson in US to prepare for the role but it seems that is not the only thing she is going have to learn. Corey Yuen is onboard the project as action choreographer and will most likely put her through martial arts training so she can participate in the action scenes.

The film will be produced by Pathe, the largest independent film studio in France with a budget of US$25 million. Principal photography is scheduled to start in January 2007 and a worldwide theatrical release is expected in spring 2008.

2007.09.27: A still has been released. Very underwhelming. You can see it here.

CAPTAIN HARLOCK: The live action movie, to be directed by Olivier Dahan, is on hold.


2004.03.08: Rumours are floating around that Roland Emmerich (Independance Day & Godzilla) is attached to the project as director and that the movie will star Tom Welling (Clark Kent in the TV series Smallville) as Sangoku.

2007.10.03: CHUD reports that the Dragon Ball Z movie is definitely slated to start filming in november in Canada and will be directed by James Wong (Jet Li's The One).

2007.12.19: Variety reports that Emmy Rossum has booked the female lead in 20th Century Fox's "Dragonball," based on the popular Japanese manga. Justin Chatwin stars as Goku, a warrior who protects the Earth from a stream of rogues bent on dominating the universe. James Marsters plays the film's villain, Lord Piccolo.
Rossum takes on the role of Bulma, whose father's Dragon Ball is stolen by Piccolo. Actor-director-writer Stephen Chow is producing. "Final Destination" helmer James Wong is directing from a script he penned. Ben Ramsey wrote an earlier draft. Rossum's film credits include "Poseidon" and "The Phantom of the Opera." She also recently released the album "Inside Out" (Geffen Records).

2008.04.09: We have our first look on the set of Dragon Ball! Thanks to Janick for the alert!

KEKKO KAMEN: Go Nagai's naked avenger is coming to the big screen. The official web page is up and it's got the trailer.

KILL BILL PREQUEL: Dark Horizon reports that director Quentin Tarantino is planning an animated prequel to both the "Kill Bill" movies which will show the early times of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. The film will be drawn Japanime style and the story will focus on the three men (Esteban Vihaio, Hattori Hanzo and Pei Mei) who turned Bill into a ruthless killer. Tarantino himself wants top produce and direct.

KITE: Distant Horizon and director Rob Cohen, the helmer behind international mega-hits “XXX” and “The Fast and the Furious,” announced their plans to remake a live action version of the Japanese anime cult classic “Kite.” Cohen and Singh will produce along with Distant Horizon’s Brian Cox. Cohen will also direct. The original anime feature, a cult classic, by Yasuomi Umetsu, renowned for its stylistically graphic depictions of violent action and sensuality, concerns a young woman named Sawa who, after the murder of her parents, is taken off the streets by a crooked, Svengali-like detective employing homeless children to do his dirty work. Trained to kill, she exacts street justice against the detective’s chosen targets, until she is able to break free of the abusive and manipulative control he has over her.

LONE WOLF AND CUB: A live action movie has been announced for this year. It's to be helmed by Darren Aronofsky, the director of Pi and Requiem for a Dream.

NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: The one project creating the most buzz at the moment. ADV Films, who released the anime series in the US has announced that they are working with the series producer Gainax and digital effects company Weta Workshop (Lord of the Rings) to produce a live action feature film based on the series. All the concept art images are here and more can be found here. No director is attached yet.

NINJA SCROLL: Threshold Entertainment announced its acquisition of Ninja Scroll from leading Japanese anime studio MADHOUSE. The producers of the Mortal Kombat franchise have plans to produce the $60 million effects laden live-action samurai feature film based on the 1994 blockbuster anime movie.

SPEED RACER : “Speed Racer” is on a fast track to the big screen in an all-new, live-action feature film that will reunite the filmmaking team behind “The Matrix,” it was announced today by Jeff Robinov, President of Production, Warner Bros. Pictures. “Speed Racer” will be written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, marking the brothers’ first writing/directing collaboration since their groundbreaking “Matrix” movies. The film will be produced by Joel Silver.

Currently slated for release in Summer 2008, “Speed Racer” will reteam the Wachowskis and Silver with several of the creative behind-the-scenes talent from “The Matrix” films, including executive producer Grant Hill, and visual effects supervisor John Gaeta, who won an Oscar for his work on “The Matrix.”

Based on the classic series created by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida, the big-screen “Speed Racer” will follow the adventures of the young race car driver Speed in his quest for glory in his thundering Mach 5. It will feature other characters that fans of the show will remember, including Speed’s family and his mysterious arch-rival, Racer X. The new high-octane actioner will combine the kind of revolutionary visual effects and cutting-edge storytelling that have become the benchmarks of the Wachowski brothers’ films, bringing “Speed Racer” into the 21st century.

In making the announcement, Robinov stated, “We believe ‘Speed Racer’ will appeal to every audience demographic. In bringing this new adventure to the screen with state-of-the-art effects and a story for today’s audiences, we hope to thrill those who grew up with Speed and his Mach 5, while enticing a new generation of fans. There is no one better suited to accomplish that than the Wachowski brothers and Joel Silver.”

“Speed Racer” will be a Warner Bros. Pictures presentation, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, of a Silver Pictures production.

TRANSFORMERS 2: Only rumours for now but we know that Michael Bay will be directing once again.

WITCH HUNTER ROBIN: Anime Nation has been contacted by Joe Menosky, writer and producer for numerous Star Trek series, and informed that the Sci-Fi Channel signed a deal with Sunrise for the rights to a live action remake of Witch Hunter Robin.

The deal was closed only this past Friday, Mr Menosky will write the series and also act as executive producer along with Mr. Roy Lee (responsible for the remake of "Ring") and his business partner Doug Davison.

The series will air somewhere in 2004 or 2005 though we don't know how many episodes the series will run or exactly when it will air.