James Wan, creator and director of the hugely successful Saw franchise, released Malignant Man – a four-issue comic book series – in 2011. The science-fiction thriller revolves around Alan Gates, a cancer patient with a terminal diagnosis, who helplessly resigns to his fate – until he discovers that his tumorous growth is not in fact cancer, but rather a mysterious alien parasite responsible for supplying him supernatural powers. Given a second lease of life, Alan uses his newfound abilities to fight against a malevolent army embedded deep into society’s skin, all while uncovering secrets from his forgotten past.
In June 2014, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to Wan’s graphic novel with a view of bringing the Boom! Studios property to the big screen. Now, two years on, the Malignant Man movie has found a director in Brad Peyton (San Andreas).
THR reports that Peyton has come aboard to direct and produce the sci-fi/action project alongside Boom!’s Ross Richie and Stephen Christy, who are producing with Wan (via his Atomic Monster label), hot on the heels of his successful supernatural horror sequel, The Conjuring 2. Other names connected to the production include Adam Yoelin of Boom!, who is co-producing, Peyton’s Factory Backwards partner Jeff Fierson, who will executive produce, and relative newcomer Zak Olkewicz who has written the script for the adaptation. Meanwhile, Matt Reilly and Ryan Jones are overseeing from Fox’s camp.
Peyton is known for directing 2012’s Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, the hugely successful sequel that became a box office hit with a worldwide gross of nearly $335 million, surpassing its predecessor Journey to the Center of the Earth. He then re-teamed with the film’s star, Dwayne Johnson, in 2015 for the earthquake disaster flick San Andreas, which earned $473 million worldwide. The director is certainly rising through the ranks in Hollywood, so it is difficult to determine exactly where Malignant Man will place on Peyton’s packed schedule; his to-do slate includes Rampage, a live-action adaptation of the 1980s Midway Arcade game, in addition to the sequels San Andreas 2 and Journey 3: From the Earth to the Moon, which are all in various stages of development (and, as you may have noticed, all have “The Rock” attached to star).
While it would have been fitting for Wan to take the helm on the upcoming comic book adaptation, as he was supposed to, Peyton appears to be a solid choice, especially in light of his blockbuster portfolio. And while Wan is a talented filmmaker in his own right, Malignant Man charts fairly new territory for him, since almost all of his credits sit comfortably within the horror genre – but that’s not a negative either. Most recently, Wan directed and co-produced/co-wrote on The Conjuring 2, which opened in North America this past weekend to $40.4 million, making it the current number one film at the domestic box office.
Not too far down the road, Wan will also begin directing on the comic book adaptation of Aquaman for Warner Bros. Pictures and DC. He’s attached to direct a Robotech movie for Sony thereafter, so his own packed schedule may be responsible for Wan’s decision to pass on directing Malignant Man himself. And, knowing that comic book properties are valuable worldwide commodities in the film industry, Fox is taking its fair slice of the action too. In addition to Malignant Man, the studio continues to expand its X-Men franchise with Deadpool 2, New Mutants, X-Force and Gambit. Moreover, they are set to release Kingsman: The Golden Circle and Starlight, which are both adaptations of comic books written by Mark Millar.
The Malignant Man film adaptation is in development and has no current release date.