Live Action Speed Racer

It’s Thursday. Apple+ TV is developing a live-action Speed Racer series to be produced by J.J. Abrams. I’m excited but wary because the last Speed Racer movie in 2008 by the Wachowski’s was horribly bad. However, at the very least, it looks like they’ll have to build another Mach 5!


A live-action scripted TV series based on the beloved manga and animated show is in the works at Apple, with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot set to exec produce the project.

Sources say Hiram Martinez (Snowpiercer, Get Shorty) is set to co-write the project and serve as showrunner as his “exciting take” on the source material is said to have impressed Apple, Bad Robot and Warners. Ron Fitzgerald (who works with Abrams on HBO’s Westworld), is the other co-writer and showrunner. Abrams and his Bad Robot banner are set to exec produce.

Sources say the live-action TV series has been in the works for years and stems from Abrams and Bad Robot’s overall deal with Warner Bros. TV. The show landed at Apple some time ago and has been in the process of meeting and hiring its co-writers in recent months as sources note the development process has been excruciatingly slow.

Speed Racer, created by Tatsuo Yoshida, was adapted in the 1960s as a beloved anime series that ran for more than 50 episodes. An English remake, Speed Racer X, was produced for Nickelodeon in 2002 but a licensing debate stunted its run. The Wachowskis adapted the title as a live-action feature film in 2008. That movie, starring Emile Hirsch, stalled at the box office and wound up losing money for producers Warner Bros. Pictures.

As of December 2013 the worldwide rights to the beloved title about a professional racer revered back to Tatsunoko Production following a string of lawsuits. Tatsunoko is believed to have blessed Apple’s Speed Racer take. (Apple, Warners and Bad Robot declined comment.)

Speed Racer is among the scores of projects that Abrams has in the works as part of his $250 million overall deal with Warners. He’s also readying Presumed Innocent for Apple, which was the home of Lisey’s Story and Little Voice, both of which also hailed from the studio he has called home for the past 15 years.

Abrams is currently prepping another Star Trek movie for Paramount as his deal with Warners allows him to work on features for other studios.

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