‘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.


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

Follow H. Shaw-Williams on Twitter @HSW3K
TAGS: Spawn
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  1. Wow, what a mess. Pretty much what I expected from McFarlane, a whole lotta talk and not much else. Still want to see a new Spawn movie, though.

    • +1

  2. Macfarlane needs to learn to compromise.

  3. Mcfarlane should give up some control bring in a real director

  4. Mcfarlane sound like M. Night Shyamalan on steroids! LOL!

  5. This article has made me dislike Mcfarlane for some reason.

  6. wow this sound horrible already ….

  7. This was not encouraging at all. Sad because I do want to see another Spawn movie. I even liked the one they made even though I know it’s far short of what it could have been.

  8. Todd has to look in the mirror and realise that he’s got to let a real director ( wan , del toro ) to do this to see spawn done justice . It should also use a talented unknown actor not a big name that would just sky rocket the budget ( fox,smith,ect.) limiting creative freedom and putting unfair expectations on what should feel like a cool indie superhero/horror flick .

  9. I don’t blame him a bit. It’s his character and his story. I think it should be his movie.

    • Agreed. No one knows it or cares about it as much as he does, including “fans” who think they know better than the creator himself.

  10. There is no track record to indicate Todd McFarlane could pull off all he imagines.

  11. That would be pretty cool if Michael Jai White could reprise his role as Spawn. The 1st one was a great flick!

    • No, and no.

      • LOL

        • Haha, Rachel. Your sarcasm isn’t lost on us.

  12. If this about the project’s integrity then I understand where he’s coming from, but sometimes you just have to compromise. I don’t think he should direct, but if it’s that important to him he should personally scout out a couple directors and sit down with them and make sure they’re going to stay true to his vision. That is if he finishes the screenplay by deadline.

  13. I have been looking forward to a new spawn movie since the fisrt one came out. I though tha McFArlen would at least have the script done by now. I dont mind the do it yourself attitude he has taken. But its delaying the movie. He needs to take this by the horns and stop procrastinating.

  14. I’d love a new spawn movie with today’s special effects, but this sounds like a disaster. McFarlane thinks he is going to get multiple A-listers on a budget of 10 mil? The effects alone should run more than that budget.

    And I must be in the minority, but I have always thought Michael Jai White is a horrible actor. I haven’t liked him in anything he’s done. He always just looks the part, but can’t act his way through an elementary school play.

    • White definitely can’t do subtle. He can do cheesy and over-the-top, but that’s all I’ve ever seen from him.

      • He’s good for fight scenes but not much else.

        He could always be the stunt double for fight scenes in that case as long as someone else is actually doing the acting. Otherwise, as much as I like him, no thanks.

  15. I’m joining cynic team this time.

    • Go Team Cynic!

      Slightly cooler than Team Jacob.

  16. Oh, I hope this actually does get made, considering how much of a total disaster it will be. It’ll be hilarious. :D


    • It might actually be entertaining in an Ed Wood sort of way.

    • +1

  17. Get a real director and give Michael Jai White his job back. I liked the 1st Spawn movie although as others have said it could have been better storywise and John Legazamo Sucked as Clown\Violater. The special effects were mediochre, as a 3rd year 3D Animation student I can say that with athuoity. Correct these things and you have a great Spawn movie

    • Dude, of course the VFX look mediocre compared to what people can do today, that was 1996-97 cgi.

    • No Just No Jai White can not act…Please stop with this giving him the job back…He is a worse actor than the dude who played Conan in the remake and yet that dude is terrible too

  18. 10mil budget, you’ll need that in cg effects alone to show Spawn in all his powered up awesomeness.

    I can understand keeping hold of creative control but that’s why you sign on as producer and screen writer.

    You DON’T sell the rights to a studio, you keep hold of that otherwise the studio will do what they want (watch the Alien bonus disc and Dan’s bitterness at how he perceived he was treated)

    But if you’ve got A-list talent like Foxx who’s a much better actor than White and can bring in the funding, why go low budget slasher flick.

    Do a GOOD script, get in a GOOD action director, stay on as producer and writer so you can “guide” the director and make it a collaboration and make a GOOD film…. please.


    • Walking Dead/Spawn crossover!

  20. I don’t think I can even get excited for this movie, even if Jamie Foxx is interested in it. Ten years he’s been working on it and mentioning it, of course people are going to keep ‘bugging’ him about it. Plus, the fact that he can’t see that movies are rarely just a one man team, is just another reason to doubt this film from even happening. I find films are generally a collaborative work especially if the person doesn’t have much experience in the area. I mean, finance it yourself and all write, produce and direct the film? Inexperienced? That’s a recipe for disaster. I know it’s his character and all but if he wants this to be a success, he has to stop getting in his own way.

  21. Well, no McFarlane, no Spawn. So, he definitely deserves a shot. Hopefully it works out. If it doesn’t, it’ll not be the end of the world. They (whoever they are), can always reboot or remake.

    • He hasn’t proven that he DESERVES to direct s*** since he’s never directed anything before.

  22. This is a total joke, no way are you going to get any names and the special effects you need with that low of a budget, unless he’s planning on throwing his 10 mil at it and hoping for other sources of revenue backing him up. Being the prima donna elite of the comic industry that he is, I dont see him being capable of making a movie with out any help, when he can’t even write/draw a book these days with out a team doing all the real work for him. I loved the spawn character but the more I got to know the ( or the more he became his own monster) creature the less and less I actually cared. This things gonna flop if it even makes it to a screening, unless they have a director like del toro that has experience directing dark movies with super heros and heavy special effects. A low budget rendition of this is going to be just as horrible as the crap he let happen in the 90′s. Have fun making a bomb Todd

  23. There is a Spawn movie, watch it, maybe you’ll even enjoy it. But, mark my words it is the only one that will ever exist. As long as Mcfarlane wants to keep complete control then be assured there will never be another. Todd has too big of an ego and is to arrogant, both of which ensure there are not index cards (as if) , no notes, no script. Sorry,he is just not dedicated, not that disciplined. Everyones best bet would be to let anyone else do it for him. Trust me on this, he will, it’s his M.O… His best ideas and creativity are way behind him.

    • I’m afraid that you’re probably right. The fact that he wants to do it all himself more than likely means it’ll never get done… or even started.

      All this “integrity” talk is cr@p, too. I mean, if Todd McFarlane has a leaky faucet does he fix it himself or call a plumber? If his car breaks down does he pop the hood and fix it himself or call a mechanic? I imagine he calls on the professionals because he’s neither a plumber or a mechanic… or a director.

      Call a professional, Todd.

  24. I actually agree with McFarlane.

  25. Hurawl? Wha rawla rawla punchSpawnhockeeyypaaaadddsss.

  26. I would love this Spawn movie to be a ghost rider, sin-city combo , but dis guy is mess this whole stuff up, Because of him I don’t see this happening, he can’t do this alone. seriously!!!!!!

  27. [shakes head sadly]

  28. In 10 years he’s only been able to complete 1/3 of a script with some “scenes” on index cards?

  29. EVERY ARTICLE about this “PROJECT” is such a JOKE…. NO to Jamie Foxx?
    I am almost certain tha HE CANNOT GET ANYBODY better with that kind of budget, NO actor works for free but one that is passionate about a project will take less! that sounds like its the case with JF, But McFAROFFLAND don’t want him??

    THIS GUY IS A TRAGEDY! PLEASE TODD: SELL SPAWN, so we can actually get a F-ing Spawn movie! This clown is pulling a Ghostbusters 3 like Dan Akroyd!
    Todd McFarlane is a LOOOSER! and a complete F-UP, the dude NEEDS some kind of MEDS! Maybe he is Bi-Polar!! Or just a QUACK!
    BUT I think most ppl are just SICK of this TURD! AND HE SHOOLD BE FLUSHED!


      McFarlane could pilot a space shuttle if he wanted to.

      McFarlane breathes without air.

      McFarlane exists in a world no one else exists in.

      ALL HAIL