Todd McFarlane has found a home for his forthcoming Spawn movie, the Image Comics co-founder announced today.
The movie -- which McFarlane has said will be a horror-focused movie with a budget in the neighborhood of $10 million -- is headed to Blumhouse, the studio known for films like The Purge, Paranormal Activity, and The Belko Experiment. McFarlane will direct.
"Having worked with many visionary directors, I think Todd's unique artistic talents will only add to his role as director of this film," said Blumhouse chief Jason Blum.
McFarlane has written the first draft of the screenplay, which the announcement for the movie described as a "dark exploration of one of comics’ most popular characters." McFarlane is known for reinventing the look of Spider-Man as well as co-creating the Venom character for Marvel Comics.
McFarlane has been working on a script and teasing a revival of the Spawn franchise for years. The previous film iteration starred Michael Jai White and was released in 1998. It was critically panned, earning just 18% on Rotten Tomatoes.
While that version of the movie looked and felt like a superhero film, the new Spawn will be decidedly less so.
"I'd put it more into horror/suspense/supernatural genre," McFarlane told ComicBook back in 2016. "If you take the movie The Departed meets Paranormal Activity, something like that."
It was around that same time McFarlane confirmed his intent to direct the film himself, saying that he had been pitching the movie around to studios and that with several interested parties, anybody who balked at allowing him to direct would find themselves out of the running.
"It's slowly moving forward, just trying to put all the pieces together both from an artistic and a financial," McFarlane said more recently. "The intent is trying to finance as much as possible internally and then finding partners who will help in the production of it as we move forward. I can argue getting the money might be harder than getting everybody signed off on the story. What I can tell you is what I've told everybody else: it will be a definite R. I'm not going for the same crowd that Marvel and DC is going for; I'm going for the same crowd that horror film releases going for. People who want to take their boyfriend or girlfriend or go out with the girls and go to the movies and get spooked."
That's not such a surprise; not only has Spawn always been a book that deals in the supernatural, but even before he took on a book full of angels, demons, hellspawns and Violators, McFarlane liked to bring the creepy to his mainstream work as well.
"When I started writing, even at the very beginning when they gave me a new Spider-Man book, it wasn't an accident that in my entire run on that book, the characters in it were The Lizard, Wendigo, Morbius, and Ghost Rider," McFarlane explained. "I was just putting a bunch of monsters in there because I love drawing them. Now Spawn is full of angels and demons."
While it has been a while since McFarlane spoke specifically about casting ideas for the film, early in the process he revealed that he was in talks with an Academy Award-winning actor who was interested in the part.
Given that Al Simmons is an African-American character, and has to be young enough to pull off some action scenes, that description whittled down the list of candidates, and fans started to put evidence together to suggest it could be Jamie Foxx.
At the time McFarlane made the comments, there were only seven living actors who would have fit the bill -- and Foxx was the one who had been most iterested in comic book roles. The actor played Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Recently, Kevin Smith and BBC America started developing a TV series based on the Spawn supporting characters Sam and Twitch, a pair of cops who had their own spinoff series at one point, written early in Brian Michael Bendis's career.
Early press on Sam & Twitch has described it as a police procedural set in the world of Spawn.
“[Smith] is attached to write, direct and executive producer a series based on the Sam And Twitch comic book series for us,” BBC America president and general manager Sarah Barnett said. “They were originally introduced in Spawn, and it’s Todd McFarlane’s comic book series about these big-city homicide detectives who face a series of super grisly crimes that are connected to the occult. It's kind of frightening and sort of gallows humor. It’s, again, procedural, but in a very modern, contemporary way. So each episode is closed ended, although there are certain character-serialized aspects to the storytelling.”
There is no indication that the series will tie into the long-in-development second feature film starring Spawn, although with both coming at the same time, anything seems possible.
Covert government assassin Al Simmons is killed after being double-crossed by his boss, Jason Wynn. Upon arriving in Hell, Simmons is offered an opportunity to return to Earth if he's willing to lead an evil army.
He accepts, and is reincarnated as a "Hellspawn" -- a twisted, horribly disfigured version of his former self. However, Spawn serves as a force of good, much to the dismay of the Devil's henchman, a wicked clown.
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