More than a decade after the Wachowskis' controversial film, the iconic anime franchise is being adapted into a new Apple TV+ series.

"Go Speed Racer, go!" You could very well hear that iconic catchphrase again, as EW has confirmed that Apple TV+ has ordered a new live-action series adaptation of the iconic franchise from J.J. Abrams' production company Bad Robot.

Abrams will serve as an executive producer on the new Speed Racer show, with Ron Fitzgerald and Hiram Martinez on board as writers and showrunners. Though the project will stream on Apple, it is also produced by Warner Bros. Television, with which Bad Robot has an overall development deal.

Emile Hirsch in the Wachowskis' 2008 film 'Speed Racer'
| Credit: Everett Collection

Speed Racer began as a Japanese manga series by Tatsuo Yoshida in 1966, and was originally titled Match GoGoGo. It was soon adapted into an anime series, which was Americanized into Speed Racer. In the '60s and '70s, Speed Racer was many Americans' first encounter with anime, and it became quite popular with audiences.

After decades stuck in development hell, the franchise finally got its big-screen adaptation with the Wachowskis' 2008 live-action Speed Racer film, starring Emile Hirsch in the lead role. However, it was a box-office bomb (opening a week after the first Iron Man movie didn't help much).

Like many post-Matrix Wachowski projects, Speed Racer has undergone a critical reappraisal in the years since, with many saluting its astounding hyper-colorful visuals and heart-on-sleeve story about standing up to corporate greed. Still, the consensus remains far from unanimous. As recently as 2018, two different EW critics still had wildly different assessments.

But now it's time for a second chance. And Abrams isn't the only one involved in the new production who knows how to put a second spin on existing IP. Martinez has written for Snowpiercer and Get Shorty, two shows that were also based on movies.

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Speed Racer
  • Movie
  • 135 minutes

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