It’s not all bad news for J.J. Abrams. Deadline reports that Apple TV+ is developing a live-action Speed Racer series with Abrams on board as executive producer.
Not much else is known about the latest Speed Racer adaptation. According to Deadline, this version will take its cues from the original 1960s manga, Mach GoGoGo by Tatsuo Yoshida. And The Hollywood Reporter claims Hiram Martinez (Snowpiercer) won the position of showrunner for his “exciting take” on the source material, which sources said impressed Apple, Abrams’ Bad Robot, and Warner Bros. Television. Ron Fitzgerald (Westworld) has also been hired as a co-writer.
The series “has been in the works for years” under Bad Robot’s overall deal with Warner Bros. and “landed at Apple some time ago.” While things seem to have been picking up in recent months with the hiring of new writers, insiders told THR “the development process has been excruciatingly slow.” Insert obligatory not-so-speedy racer joke here.
Speed Racer follows the titular character doing the titular thing (that is, speed racing) in his beloved vehicle, the Mach 5. The manga was adapted into an anime series by Tatsunoko Productions in the late ’60s and later expanded overseas into a successful franchise in the U.S.
There have been several Speed Racer cartoons on television over the years, and in 2008 the Wachowskis wrote and directed a live-action film version starring Emile Hirsch. (Per Deadline, the new Speed Racer has no connection to the Wachowskis’ version, but does have Tatsunoko’s blessing, according to THR.)
Apple previously teamed up with Bad Robot on Lisey’s Story and Little Voice, with My Glory Was I Had Such Friends (starring Abrams’ Alias lead, Jennifer Garner) in the pipeline. There are a number of other projects in the works under the Warner Bros. deal, although the recent Discovery merger has put the partnership into jeopardy. Hopefully, Speed Racer has what it takes to cross the finish line.