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J.J. Abrams’ ‘Speed Racer’ Series Hits the Gas at Apple

After a slow start, the show is now taking off with the noted creator and his production company, Bad Robot, at the wheel.

Speed Racer is a go: a live-action series based on the iconic animated property is now in development at Apple, with J.J. Abrams set to serve as its executive producer.

According to Variety, Hiram Martinez (Snowpiercer, Get Shorty) and Ron Fitzgerald (Westworld) will both serve as co-writers and showrunners on the project.

A Speed Racer series has reportedly been in development for a number of years, and is now coming to fruition as part of an overall deal between Warner Bros. TV and Abrams and his company, Bad Robot. The series is expected to hire the rest of its writing team in the days ahead.

Created by Tetsuo Yoshida, Speed Racer began as a 1960s manga series and was adapted stateside as an anime in 1967, running for over 50 episodes. An English-language series reboot, Speed Racer X, was made by Nickelodeon in 2002, but its run was hindered by licensing issues. The Wachowskis helmed their own riff on the source material - a live-action feature starring Emile Hirsch - in 2008, but it proved to be a major flop for Warner Bros. Pictures.

Tatsunoko Production has held the worldwide rights to the IP since 2013, and now appears to endorse Apple’s upcoming addition to the franchise canon.

Speed Racer will count as one of many other projects to come from Abrams and Bad Robot as part of their $250 million overall deal. In addition to Justice League Dark (for HBO Max), they are also working on a series about the band U2 for Netflix, and on the large-scale sci-fi drama Demimonde for HBO.

Abrams’ deal with Warner does not tie him down exclusively to the studio, however, and he is now in pre-production on another Star Trek feature for Paramount.

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Max Weinstein is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. He is the Editor-at-Large of 'Dread Central' and former Editorial Director of 'MovieMaker.' His work has been featured in 'Cineaste,' 'Fangoria,' 'Playboy,' 'Vice,' and 'The Week.'