Leonardo Dicaprio and Warner Bros studios are to transform anime classic Akira into two live-action movies, it has been confirmed.

Warner Bros has announced today that Ruairi Robinson, an Oscar-nominated Irish director, is attached to direct the project, which will see Katsuhiro Otomo's six-volume graphic novel following the path of the planned Tintin and Hobbit movies by being split into two films.

The first of the pair is to be fast-tracked for a summer 2009 release, with Leonardo DiCaprio's production company, Appian Way, attached to the project.

DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson will produce, alongside with Andrew Lazar's Mad Chance firm.

The films will of course not represent the first cinematic adaptation of Otomo's novel, with the author himself directing the landmark 1988 animated movie.

Set in a post-apocalyptic 'New Tokyo' in 2019, the graphic novel sees Shotaro Kaneda, a teenage biker gang leader, desperately attempting to stop the destruction of the city after his friend and fellow gang member Tetsuo Shima is subjected to a government experiment that unleashes his latent psychic powers.

Seen as a watershed moment in anime, Akira was at the vanguard of the growing popularity of anime in western pop culture and its revolutionary animation has seen it viewed as one of the greatest animated films ever made.

The new story, with a script penned by English screenwriter Gary Whitta, will see the action transferred to 'New Manhattan', a city spawned by Japanese money and raised from the ashes of a New York destroyed some 31 years previously in a nuclear attack.

Though DiCaprio is producing, no casting announcements have yet been made.

21/02/2008 13:48:57