Todd McFarland, Spawn creator and director of the upcoming feature film version, pledged at New York Comic Con today to post daily Facebook updates during filming to chronicle the day-in-day-out goings-on of life on the set.
And he promised that Spawn, which will go into pre-production after Christmas for a February production start, will be “dark and R-rated,” and not R-rated like Deadpool “with a couple F-bombs and a couple bare asses.”
“It’s going to be dark,” McFarlane said, explaining that Spawn won’t be a standard superhero movie and its darkness will spring from a realistic drama that will play on fear. “I will have a shark in black water,” he said metaphorically, “and if you’re swimming he will come and you’ll be gone and he will f*ck you up.”
McFarlane spoke about his love of dark drama – “Gorky Park over Star Wars” – and how the best supernatural thrillers contain one fantastical element set in an otherwise realistic environment. “John Carpenter’s The Thing minus the Thing is about dudes holed up in the North.”
The comic book vet dropped a couple non-Spawn (and vague) hints – he and Kevin Smith met yesterday with AMC about their Sam and Twitch series; he recently sold a script to Showtime that won’t be announced for five or six months, and his McFarlane Toys just landed a deal for a Stranger Things line – but most of the talk was about Spawn.
McFarlane completed the script for the new Spawn last year before joining up with Jason Blum’s production company Blumhouse on the project.
McFarlane said today that pre-production is expected to start just after Christmas, with production to begin in February. While Blum has a first-look deal at Universal, McFarlane does not – meaning, he said, that Universal is likely to “take it” but he wouldn’t rule out other studios.
“The only things we need from them,” he said, “are distribution and marketing. We don’t need your input, we don’t need your cash, we don’t need your creativity – and they don’t like those deals. They always want the budget to go up because then they have to put money in it and then they own it.”
McFarlane said the budget for Spawn will be $10 million, and that his financial control of the project allows for a couple perks – like getting to share on-set tidbits with Facebook fans (which studios, he said, would frown on) and that he gets to direct his first movie.
Asked by an audience member why he’s so confident he can direct a movie, McFarlane said, “I didn’t use to draw comic books and I drew comic books and I won awards. I don’t know how to read music and I have a Grammy Award.
“I’m spending my own money so who cares if it doesn’t work out. It’s a $10 million budget movie, and (a studio) would just get a 22-year-old punk director. I just want to be the old punk directing it.”