Mythos Studios, the big-ambition animation studio established last year by Marvel Studios Founding Chairman David Maisel and SB Projects founder Scooter Braun, announced the creative teams leading the company’s first three feature films: Cupid, starring pop superstar Justin Bieber; Fathom, an undersea superhero epic; and Soulfire, the saga of an orphaned boy who is heir to ancient magic.
Work has actually been underway on all three films at the Los Angeles production offices of Mythos since February. No target release dates or production timetables have been announced. The creative teams, listed by project:
Cupid: Music video veteran Pete Candeland will direct the animated musical about the famed god of desire from classical mythology and stars the previously announced Bieber as the voice of the headstrong winged archer whose parents are Venus the goddess of love, and Mars, the war deity. Candeland’s credits include the memorably stylized and persona-shaping music videos for the Gorillaz as well as The Beatles: Rock Band, the milestone bestseller in the video game sector.
Cupid has been developed by Carlos Kotkin (Rio 2) working from Maisel’s story adaptation of the familiar mythological tale of Cupid and Psyche, which has been found in Greek art depictions that date back to the 4th Century B.C. The fresh take on Cupid will be positioned as the cornerstone of a new “shared universe” of interconnected Mythos franchises that each pull characters and story scenarios from the rich traditions of Greek and Roman mythology.
Fathom: Directing duo Kevin Adams & Joe Ksander (Netflix’s Next Gen) will lead this feature adaptation working from a screenplay by bestselling novelist and Emmy-nominated TV writer Kristin Gore (Futurama, Saturday Night Live). The title character is the transformed persona of Aspen Matthews, a marine biologist who discovers her secret heritage as a member of an advanced underwater species. Fathom was introduced in 1998 in the pages of Aspen Comics by the late Michael Turner, a fan-favorite artist who championed powerful female characters. (Mythos is now a co-owner of Aspen Comics.) The Mythos plan is for Fathom to usher in the TurnerVerse, another shared-mythology brand that would unite multiple franchises in a manner similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Soulfire: Adams and Ksander will also direct this second bid for a superhero franchise that would “live” in the so-called TurnerVerse. The writing team of Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt (Star Trek: Discovery, Reign) are adapting Turner’s Soulfire comic book series, which was launched in 2003 by Aspen Comics. The story follows Malikai, an orphan who learns that he’s the heir of a long-forgotten age of magic, and Grace, the winged goddess who joins the youngster on his quest to restore magic in the world — a quest that will put the pair at odds with a dark and dangerous lord of technology.
Maisel said the trio of teams in place are uniquely equipped to create the foundation franchises that will be the basis of two shared-universe umbrella brands. The value of that, Maisel said, is evident in his own track record in the early days of Marvel Studios (he was both Chairman of Marvel Studios and the co-CEO of Marvel Entertainment from 2003 to 2010) when three franchise seed films — Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America: the First Avenger — introduced other key Marvel characters (Nick Fury, Hawkeye, Agent Coulson, etc.) and collectively provided a narrative and promotional platform for Marvel’s Avengers franchise.
“We are tremendously fortunate to have found brilliant creative partners whose artistry and storytelling talent will help us bring these very distinct, yet universally themed stories to life on the big screen,” Maisel said. “These three projects reflect our vision for Mythos Studios, which is to immerse viewers in cool, animated universes based on contemporary and classic mythologies that resonate around the world. We are excited to be moving forward with these films.”
Braun, whose management firm, record label, and music publishing company have a roster of music world stars led by Bieber, Ariana Grande, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Demi Lovato, echoed Maisel’s excitement about the ramping slate of Mythos animation projects.
“When David and I launched Mythos, we knew we had something really special in both our shared overall vision and the IP we wanted to bring to life,” Braun said. “We are thrilled to have best-in-class creatives and executives to help make these stories a reality.”
Mythos also announced the appointment of Aaron Dem to Vice President of Physical Production for Mythos Studios. Dem has spent there decades as a leading exec in visual effects production for animated and live-action projects, including DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Patriot, Space Jam and Titanic.
Dem joins the Mythos Studios’ senior executive team, which also includes Andrew Swett, formerly of Lord & Miller, who joined Mythos last year as Vice President of Production & Development.
Candeland is represented by Verve and Newhouse Porter Hubbard. Kotkin is represented by Verve, Circle of Confusion, and Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal Laviolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman. Adams & Ksander are represented by UTA; Stone, Genow, Smelkinson, Binder & Christopher, LLP; and Heitmann Entertainment. Gore is represented by attorney Eric Brooks. Kim & Lippoldt are represented by Gotham Group.