‘Speed Racer’ hits live-action high gear

Movie News | Nov 1st, 2006

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After years of idling, the big-screen, live-action version of “Speed Racer” is ready to zoom, this time with the creators of “The Matrix” at the wheel.

Brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski are writing and will direct the Warner Bros. movie, their first directorial outing since completing the “Matrix” trilogy in 2003.

Based on the classic 1960s series created by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida that later was retooled for North American audiences, the big-screen “Speed” will follow the adventures of the young race car driver Speed in his quest for glory in his thundering gadget-laden vehicle, Mach 5. The movie will feature other characters from the show, including Speed’s family and his mysterious archrival, Racer X.

The film’s producer, Joel Silver, has been trying to get the feature version off the ground since the early 1990s; in 2004, Vince Vaughn even pitched a take that cast him as Racer X. When Silver worked on the spring terrorist thriller “V for Vendetta,” which the Wachowskis wrote, he approached them about tackling the project. The duo were reluctant to do it unless they could figure out a way to bring something new to the table.

“They are approaching these racing scenes in a way you’ve never seen before,” said Silver, adding that the brothers are designing the movie’s look as they write. Silver also said that unlike the more adult-oriented material of the Wachowskis’ past — “Vendetta,” the “Matrix” movies and “Bound” were all rated R — “Speed” will be family-friendly.

“They wanted to do something that could appeal to everybody,” said Silver, who produced the “Matrix” films.

The plan is for the Wachowskis to shoot in summer 2007 for a summer 2008 release.