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LOS ANGELES - The anime classic Akira is getting the live-action big screen treatment courtesy of Leonardo DiCaprio and a first-time feature filmmaker.

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 postapocalyptic 'New Tokyo' in 2019 where a teen biker gang member is subjected to a government experiment that 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 mainstream animation circles, leading the way for anime to make inroads into Western pop culture in the 1990s.

The new story, which DiCaprio will produce for Warner Bros, ideally would be a two-part epic, with the first movie coming out next summer. The action will move to 'New Manhattan', a city rebuilt by Japanese money.

It will mark the feature directorial debut of commercials veteran Ruairi Robinson, who sold the studio on his vision. The Irish native, who was nominated for a best animated short Oscar in 2001 for the sci-fi comedy Fifty Per cent Grey, also wrote and directed a sci-fi short titled The Silent City.

- REUTERS/Hollywood Reporter