‘Spawn’ Reboot: Todd McFarlane Talks DIY Approach; Not Happy with Jamie Foxx

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 16th, 2014 at 9:25 am,

Spawn Movie Reboot Update Spawn Reboot: Todd McFarlane Talks DIY Approach; Not Happy with Jamie Foxx

There has long been talk of a big screen reboot of Todd McFarlane’s comic book character from hell, Spawn, and all eyes are on McFarlane himself, who owns the rights to the character and therefore holds the cards when it comes to Spawn‘s future movie potential. Rumors of a sequel to the 1997 film, which starred Michael Jai White in the lead, were circulating for years and were later succeeded by serious talk of a reboot – and there have been quite a few reasons to get excited about such a movie.

First of all, White has said that he’d like to reprise his role in a reboot, which would definitely be good news for those who enjoyed his performance in the original. McFarlane has also said that he wants to make Spawn as a legitimately creepy horror movie rather than as a superhero movie, which would make an interesting contrast to the more lighthearted, action-based fare on offer.

As the Screen Rant editorial team discussed on the most recent SR Underground podcast, McFarlane recently revealed that he’s attempting to finish the script for Spawn by the end of the year in order to get it into production by 2014, which could potentially mean a Spawn movie would be in theaters by 2015. While that rough plan doesn’t appear to have changed, what we’re hearing about this movie is starting to raise quite a few concerns.

Game Rant recently interviewed McFarlane about his current work with Ubisoft, and the subject of the Spawn movie cropped up. We asked whether, amidst his various endeavors, this was still something that McFarlane was eager to pursue. His response was pretty mixed:

“Fans always ask and the answer is always the same; the movie has been sitting in my head for 10 years. I’ve begun the screenplay, people have been bugging me about this thing forever… The only reason it’s always been slowed up is that I write, produce, direct and so I just need to get the proper amount of time to be able to finish that screenplay and then be able to do the rewrites whether it’s me or somebody else [who does them] and then go in and direct it.

“I’m about a third through the screenplay. The whole movie is built on index cards so I just got to convert it onto the paper but I got like two hundred scenes, you can’t even have that many in a movie… There’s a couple of people that have kind of put a gun to my head and said we want that screenplay no later than December so that we can start shooting next year. So that’s right now [where we’re at] I’ve talked to my people and told them, ‘you gotta find me the time. I gotta get this thing done by December so that we can start shooting by next year. Maybe shoot it up here in Canada.’”

McFarlane’s description of people “bugging” him and being forced to write the screenplay for Spawn with a metaphorical gun to his head doesn’t bode well for those hoping to see the reboot begin shooting by 2014. If he truly does intend to write, produce and direct Spawn, then juggling all three roles and pushing the movie through development and production is going to take a lot of drive and determination. If McFarlane’s ability to write the script for Spawn is dependent upon other people clearing a space in his schedule for him, it’s difficult to see how he might manage the demands associated with the actual production of a film.

Spawn 10 prison scene Spawn Reboot: Todd McFarlane Talks DIY Approach; Not Happy with Jamie Foxx

The desire to take on writing, producing and directing a film all at the same time is understandable, since this would theoretically mean the maximum amount of creative control over the finished product. There are some writer-producer-directors who have managed to pull off this exhausting triad of roles successfully – but since McFarlane has never directed a feature film before and has only a handful of executive producer credits, his insistence upon making Spawn this way could potentially be disastrous for the movie.

So far, the most positive sign that Spawn fans have had is the interest from Academy Award-winning actor Jamie Foxx, who has said that he’s “aggressively pursuing” the role, and whose interest almost certainly encouraged studios to begin seeking out a deal to produce Spawn. Surprisingly, McFarlane didn’t seem too enthused about this potential casting choice:

“At the San Diego Con, Jamie Foxx came out and they were doing an interview and [he said] ‘I make a good Spawn, right? I met with Todd and I want to do Spawn.’  And I was like, ‘I thought we were keeping that [quiet].’”

Game Rant then asked whether Foxx is the actor that McFarlane actually wants to play Spawn:

“No, no, no, I’m just saying he said it out loud and then all of a sudden all the studios were phoning me again saying, ‘Todd, see if we can even get somebody in there.’”

Foxx would almost certainly guarantee some decent investment in the Spawn reboot, but it seems that McFarlane already has a plan for producing the movie that wouldn’t require the big bucks brought in by a big-name actor. Not only does Spawn‘s creator want to write, produce and direct the movie, he’s also strongly considering self-financing it as well:

“My goal to some degree is to self-finance and I know [people] go, ‘that’s dumb and that’s crazy,’ but years ago, Mel Gibson did it with ‘The Passion of The Christ.’  So I sort of call this one, Spawn from hell: my passion of the anti-Christ. In my mind I can do this thing with 10 million bucks and if you keep it small they’re just gonna get an unknown director anyway for that kind of a budget, so I go, ‘If you’re going to get an unknown director, let me be that unknown director.’ Again, there’s nobody that’s argued it – they just go, ‘Then where’s the screenplay? Get it done.’”

One of the golden rules in Hollywood is to never spend your own money making a movie, because doing so means that you’ll be personally stuck with the bill if it flops; although, given McFarlane’s success, he can probably afford to take a hit of a few million dollars. His rationale for wanting to direct Spawn himself is a lot shakier, though; an unknown director is not the same thing as an inexperienced director, and even with such a small budget, it would be perfectly possible to find a talented director with a couple of indie horror movies under his or her belt.

Spawn comic panel Spawn Reboot: Todd McFarlane Talks DIY Approach; Not Happy with Jamie Foxx

McFarlane went on to cite Crash (which Paul Haggis wrote, produced and directed) as a critically successful low-budget movie and The Conjuring as a commercially successful low-budget horror, both of which he believes show a precedent that proved Spawn could do well. It’s worth remembering, though, that Gibson, Haggis and James Wan all had previous experience as directors.

Despite our misgivings, McFarlane remains positive about the future of Spawn on the big screen. Even if Foxx ends up not being cast in the role, for whatever reason, McFarlane remains confident that he can draw some big names to the script:

“Do I think I can get some A-list people in the movie? Absolutely! The A-list people have friends that are also A-listers. So if I can hit that deadline in December then we can go into production [and] it’ll be a real movie. Even if its quote-unquote low-budget so that I can direct it, it will be a real movie.”

It’s a shame that there’s not more in McFarlane’s words to inspire positivity. Hard-bitten cynics that we are, it’s hard to swallow his plan to write, produce, direct and self-finance a Spawn reboot when after 10 years he’s struggling to even finish the script (he can barely even draw part of a comic book in ninth months these days). It’s all the more frustrating knowing that Jamie Foxx is enthusiastically up for the role and that studios are apparently eager to get the gears moving on this movie by next year – perhaps with a significantly higher budget than $10 million.

Do you have faith that Spawn is going to become a “real movie” in the near future? Tell us what you think of McFarlane’s plans in the comments.

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We’ll keep you updated on the Spawn reboot as more information becomes available.

Follow H. Shaw-Williams on Twitter @HSW3K
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  1. I WANT MICHAEL JAI WHITE TO PLAY SPAWN IN THE SPAWN REBOOT MOVIE.

    • MJW was garbage in 1997, he’s still garbage now. How he has been able to pass himself off as an actor for this long is mind boggling.

    • +10000000000000000000000000000000!!! no Jamie Foxx please…

  2. Sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.

  3. I think ‘ol Todd is suffering some serious delusions. I’m not holding my breath on this one.
    Perhaps as a thought, Wesley Snipes is probably going pretty cheaply these days. Maybe he could be the right one to fill the spot. He has the acting and *cough cough* Karate chops.

  4. This actually pisses me off to an extent. I love the character Spawn, and I think a lot of other people do as well. But cmon McFarlane, don’t cheat what this movie could be by putting a cheap ass budget on it. I think it deserves more than that and could become something great if done right with a good script and the right actors. And for the love of god…get a director whos got some street cred to make this movie awesome. It doesn’t have to be Jamie Foxx playing Spawn, but it needs to be someone of that caliber. Someone with some acting talent and not just the actor who is willing to be paid the least due to a crummy budget. But get off of the high horse of wanting to have total control over every aspect of the movie, from production, to screenwriter, to director. That’s just too many damn hats to wear.

  5. I agree with all the commenters that said Guillermo del Toro should direct the movie and Wesley Snipes should be Spawn.
    I also agree that Jamie Foxx would not be a good idea for Spawn.
    Sure he was good in Django Unchained and he was a villain in a Spider-Man movie, still don’t think he is ‘Spawn’ material.
    You need a badazz black person and Wesley Snipes would be perfect for the role.
    Especially since Blade: Trinity was a complete disaster and his jail time didn’t help him out at all.
    He needs to redeem his name and the Expendables 3 is a good start with Spawn being step two.
    Also, I agree the budget needs to be more than 10 million.
    That was part of the problem with the first movie.
    The CGI was good but it could have been a lot better.
    If the CGI was better, it would have made more money and a sequel would have been born.
    SPAWN would have unleashed the comic movie craze, not Spider-Man.
    Spawn > Spider-Man.

    For those that read the comics back in the day…. SPAWN WOULD KILL BATMAN IN A HEART BEAT.
    However, the team up in the second cross-over comic was AWESOME!

    IF, a very big if, Todd McFarland succeeds in a Spawn movie…. then maybe we will get another animated series.
    One could only hope.

    What I would really like to see, I know it will never happen though, would be a Spawn / Venom cross-over movie.
    That would be a NURDTASTICALLY FRIGGEN EPIC WIN FOR THE AGES of all that is AWESOME!!!!!!! :)

  6. The whole reason Todd and his buddies started Image comics was to have full creative control, but in the world of cinema I think Todd would be wise to have some help from experienced people. Maybe a co-director with some horror experience, an experienced writer that he can give his vision of the film to who can crank out a script and finally some financial backing from a smaller studio who would be more willing to give Todd creative control. These are just suggestions, whatever Todd decides to do I hope that he can deliver a film that will do justice to his Spawn character and to his fans who like me have been reading the book since day one.

  7. No jaimie foxx. He would b as good at Spawn as Ben Affleck as Batman…absolutely terrible. I agree bring back Michael Jai White as Spawn in a reboot or even a sequel to the 97 film. He was awesome as Spawn and wants to do the role again. And he would prob fit into Todd McFarlanes budget ideas (which are retarded). If they put in the kind of effort into Spawn that Marvel has been putting into the Avengers individual movies…blockbuster hit for sure!! And another thing i dont like is Todd talking about focusing the movie on a Sam & Twitch combined character with Spawn as a “peripheral” character…dont insult and downplay Spawn that way. Focus on Spawn and how freakin awesome he is i.e. Crazy fight scenes, violence against the bad guys, and the struggle against Malebolgia and Clown. And as an after credit teaser, throw in a scene with Angel to let us know she is gona be in the sequel. Just my humble opinion.

    P.s. My idea for casting…

    Michael Jai White-Spawn
    Sean Connery or Liam Neeson-Cogliostro
    Amanda Righetti-Angel

  8. Only Michael White can play that part. And I can not stand Jamie Fox. If they get him I for one will not see the movie. Get White whatever it takes.

  9. I think McFarlane is trying to be as careful as humanly possibly with what happens with his creative property. I’m sure that he feels he owes it to fans who’ve been there reading and looking at his artwork since he was making the most awesome Spider Man run in the history of the character. He has upheld his values concerning Spawn since the beginning and for anyone who’s been reading Spawn since the first issues in the early nineties when he began Image and left Marvel, then you’d know that McFarlane began Image as a company from the ground up and took the risk of failure on many levels. Marvel and DC probably wouldn’t have hired him back, he and the Image co-founders were using their own meager savings for that venture (which means his life-savings as well as his friends’ savings were on the line), people have speculated arguably and said that had Image failed as a company then McFarlane and Images co-founders would have been blamed for indie comic company that came after failing, not to mention he was risking his creative property. To understand where McFarlane is coming from you have to understand that these super iconic artists and creators who began Image Comics risked everything because they weren’t being given credit for storylines, plots, artwork, ideas and to the greatest extent they weren’t even being given credit for some of the characters that they created. All of this on top of being paid peanuts for doing something that they put their entire heart and soul into. I’m sure McFarlane will consider himself damned should he relinquish his creative rights again and see everyone criticize and bring him down because of it. This dude is seriously a champion for creators everywhere. Anyone of the artists/writers/creators at Image comics will tell you this as they have full creative control over their series. We wouldn’t have the Walking Dead if it wasn’t for McFarlane since arguably his book ‘Spawn’ singlehandedly kept Image afloat while a lot of the other books that began at the same time Spawn did weren’t doing as well as they should have, also some of which aren’t even around today.

    If you look at McFarlane’s history, work ethic, creativity, business ethic and so on and so on it’s really not hard to see that everything that he did was a MASSIVE success beginning with the issues of Spider Man that he worked on in the 80s. Those Spider Man books are among the most iconic ever among diehard comic book fans. He created a company that single-handedly brought down the giant that was Marvel comics. Yes friends, look back and research why Marvel went bankrupt in the mid-90s and you’ll find that it was due to the rise and popularity of Image comics and a direct result of Marvel’s BEST and brightest jumping ship to start their own studios. It almost happened overnight that all of this happened and I haven’t even mentioned that he later began McFarlane toys and aside from revolutionizing comics and destroying archaic censorship flagship The Comic Code Authority, but he also revolutionized toys. No longer were toys something that only kids wanted and no longer were comics campy, cheesy and for pre-pubescent and adolescent boys (yes, there were others who came before him that are responsible for this trend however McFarlane was the giant iconic last straw that obliterated the camel’s back). I remember going to the conventions at the shrine auditorium and seeing a line (I’m not exaggerating) but the line was about a half-mile long just to see him, and not even to get an autograph or ask a question. Just to see the guy speak people were lined up for almost a mile stretching down blocks from the entrance of the Shrine auditorium.

    All of these responsibilities that this one man had, and still for many issues he continued to write, ink, and draw for the pages of his book. With a comic book company to run, a super successful new toy company, video games, movies, cartoons, family… it’s really no wonder that “he can barely even draw part of a comic book in ninth months these days”. What time does a mega-mogul in his industry have? Do you ever wonder why Jay-Z retired from the rap game and then came back and then retired again? First he stops making albums because homeboy was making crazy amounts of money through other business ventures (clothing lines, consulting, producing, etc.), then he came back to give fans what they wanted because he owed it to them and now he just does whatever the f*** he wants. Not so different from our man Todd except that McFarlane is adamant about not handing over this jewel of a creative property for anyone to s*** on. If anyone is going to s*** on Spawn I’m sure that McFarlane feels like it should be him. I’m sure he’s failed at things many times over the years but I’m also certain that his successes far outweigh his failures given that he’s still filthy rich from what he’s created almost all by himself. So when he says things like that he wants to write, produce and direct, it’s undoubtedly because that’s what he did with the first issues of Spawn. He wrote, inked and drew for that book and I’m sure had he not had awesome people backing him like Tom Orzechowski, he would’ve even lettered and colored the book himself. Can he do it? Well, let’s look at his track record… He started a company that bankrupted the biggest name in comic book history (arguably above DC, that being Marvel), he revolutionized the toy industry and he continues to uphold everything he stood for in the very beginning of his career at Image. Only Stan Lee and Jack Kirby can be named as one who can be held above or next to the like of McFarlane. Maybe Frank Miller but even Frank Miller wrote Robocop 3. Tsk. Stan Lee flopped a lot after the 60s and 70s. McFarlane is one that has an even better track record than the aforementioned Stan Lee, Frank Miller and… maybe not Jack Kirby in the sense that his art was always amazing but even Kirby flopped with his TOPP comics and another book for a company I can’t even remember right now.

    What does McFarlane have to bring to the movie industry? Well, definitely not as much as others who make a living directing and screen writing but if his past work is any indication of where he’ll take things then I’d bet my money on McFarlane. Let’s not bash McFarlane just yet. Give a Canadian a chance, eh?

  10. Michael Jai White has to be Spawn