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

Published 10 months 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.

TAGS: spawn

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  1. Todd’s always been his own worst enemy. And it looks like that’s not going to change anytime soon. As much as I’d love for a QUALITY Spawn movie to be made, I just don’t see it happening. A few years back he said the same thing about the return of the animated series and then nothing. He has a real talent for getting things stuck in developmental hell. As long as he’s in control, that’s where this movie will stay. It’s a shame though. There’s so much potential for a really good movie and a really good return with the animated series, but this guy is too full of himself to ever give it a real shot. Thanks Todd!

    • He suffers quite a bit from Lucas-itis.

    • Barry Gordy produced and directed a successful movie after the original director quit mid production. And he was a ford factory worker before owning Motown the point is anything is possible in this country.

    • TOTALLY agree. I think he just likes talking about making the movie more than actually making it. He’s been doing this for the last decade or so.

      Spawn is an awesome character and but Todd’s just to full of himself for this project to come to fruition. Movie-making is a collaborative process not a one-man band show.

    • I completely agree with everything you said.

  2. Not Sounding Good For This Project.

  3. Get Kieth David for the voice. The freaking rocked Spawn in the animated series.

  4. Actually i have faith Todd will do it. he is a type A person that knows hard work pays off and he isnt where he is today from missing opportunities. Spawn is his empire he will take care of it.

    As to his lack of Directing credits, I dont think thats an issue. All a director is, is someone who knows how to work with a team, to guide others to follow your vision. Todd has been doing that his entire career, whether its comic books or toys.

    He understands visuals, framing and storytelling from being in comics for so long.

    he is an entrepreneur and an artist the combination is a DIRECTOR.

    i would of course want to see a bigger budget version, but that means relinquishing some controls, that I wouldnt want to either if i had the option like he does.

    Just like comics and toys I beleive he will prove himself again.

    • AND… if he does manage to produce it for $10 million, it practically guarantees the film’s success.
      There is no way a Spawn movie wouldnt make at least $10 million no matter how bad the end result might be and most likely it it would make a lot more than that.
      This would then give him more clout as a filmmaker giving him more opportunities there. So he is not only taking care of his property, but he is ultimately positioning himself in the industry as a serious filmmaker.

    • The majority of this article was devoted to how Todd DOES NOT work hard on anything lol. 10 years working on a screenplay? Can’t finish a comic in 9 months? No man…Nobody has ever accused Todd of working hard lol.

  5. While I’m not sure Jamie Foxx is right for that role (I think someone a little more “hard boiled” is needed in that role), I don’t have a lot of faith in Mcfarlane trying to do EVERYTHING himself and turning in a faithful adaptation of Spawn. I’d love to see a slightly bigger budget with better effects, and I think Michael Jai White actually turned in a decent performance and could still manage it with the right script (which I’m also on the fence about McFarlane doing right by), not to mention he’s ripped to hell and a martial artist to boot.

  6. This man is talented but truly a piece of work. Doing a super hero movie must be too “mainstream” for McFarlane. Shame. Again, Todd is his own worst enemy. Essentially, what he’s doing is polarizing himself. Just grow up and allow yourself to trust others. Either that or keep Spawn in production-hell.

  7. Why doesn’t he just kickstart it and see what happens.

    • Ego

  8. After reading this article, I think I’d want a rebooted Tank Girl movie instead now.

    • Agreed!

  9. Everything about this is a horrible idea. I don’t want a non-fantastical Spawn movie that looks like it was made by Asylum as a straight to Netflix streaming project; and that’s exactly what we’ll get if Todd McFarlane is allowed to direct this thing.

  10. Well good luck with that Todd.

    Just remember your’e not a seasoned director. I couldn’t even watch Frank Miller’s “The Spirit”. Because you have talent doesn’t mean you know how to take the right approach in an area you are not used to. Listen to others advice and don’t surround yourself with “yes” men like Lucas did last time around.

    • Thank you for getting right to the point! Frank Miller…creative genius! His “movie” THE SPIRIT…

      I think Todd McFarlane is a very talented artist who became the “rock star” of the comic industry in the 90s. I’m not expecting to see or hear anything relevant from him ever again. It doesn’t mean I won’t, but if I was suddenly a “rock star” with adoring fans and constant income, would I take a chance of ruining it? Keep in mind Todd said that the original Spawn movie was amazing, until it wasn’t.

  11. This is gonna suck.
    Seriously Todd, bring some who understand horror movies to direct the film.
    Fede Alvarez, Drew Goddard, James Wan, Vikram Bhatt, Craig Gillespie, Samuel Bayer, Wes Craven, James Watkins, Guillermo del Toro, etc.

    • *someone*

  12. Has this movie got any link to Venom from Marvel? The costume is a complete copy of Venom if not!

    • Todd McFarlane created Venom while writing and penciling the Spiderman comics at Marvel in the late 70′s or so. He has said that the idea for Spawn was already in his head at that time, and he borrowed the design and “living suit” concept for Venom from Spawn. Not the other way around.

      • Late 70s?! Try 1988! I seriously doubt Todd McFarlane had Spawn in his head when he was an artist at Marvel. He created Venom, one of the most iconic characters in Marvel comics since Wolverine. Marvel wouldn’t give him the rights to the character, he broke off and formed Image Comics and created Spawn. Name four other Image Comic characters and their creators, and how likely are they to have a movie…

        (My favorite… the MAXX!)

        • I think I have most if not all of the MAXX comics, those were a trip. Remember the TV show? Gotta love Sam Kieth.

        • Ack!!! Should’ve checked Wikipedia before posting info from the back of my head…

          Oh well, I was mostly right. Such is life.

      • Thanks for clearing that up, was hoping it would bethe Venom movie that’s been talked about, but oh well

  13. Spawn sucks. He is just Spider-man with a cape. McFarlane should stick with making action figures of over-paid jocks.

    • Kind of an oversimplification you think? Have you read Spawn? The motivations are completely different. That said, a true Spawn movie would probably have to be NC-17 and would not attract a mainstream audience. If he even just did the plot from the Hellspawn graphic novel where a dead girl seduces him to become the king of Hell, that would be hardcore right there.

  14. So Todd wants to write, produce, & direct this reboot on a small budget, when he has the time of course (I was not aware he did many projects outside of toy lines). Spawn’s past popularity might not be enough to sell this project in today’s market with an untested commodity like MacFarland running the whole show.

  15. I think it’s a great idea NOT letting Jamie Foxx be spawn.
    Jamie Foxx would be a very poor choice over Michael Jai White.
    Just because Jamie Foxx is an A-list actor doesn’t make him right for the role, & it’s typical hollywood thinking it would be.
    That’s why half these movies suck.
    As something simple as getting a natural redhead to play mary jane or a natural blonde for gwen stacey, hollywood screws that up by going for the name & not who’s right for the part.

    If Todd McFarlane thinks Jamie Foxx doesn’t work then i don’t blame him.
    The first actor for SPAWN was perfect, Michael Jai White.
    They just need to avoid the original SPAWN costume. It was horrible.

    And MercurySteam would be a great choice for a SPAWN game.

    • You must have typed incorrectly because Michael Jai White cannot act, you people need to stop pretending he can, Stunts great sure he can do those but act NO….Literally a homeless man off the street could do a better job.Hell Michael Jai White is nothing more than the poor mans Jason Statham anyway with his straight to DVD and Netflix garbage, No thank you At least Jamie Fox can act

  16. 10 million? It will be hard to tell a awesome Spawn story with 10 million. If he’s inexperienced would he even know how to stretch that 10 million? Good luck making a bad ass Spawn suit not using any CG. I’m all for keeping it more simple and having a great story. But Spawn is going to have some epic battles and 10 million $ budget will water those down.

    Is there a market for Spawn. hell yeah. There’s a market for anything if you present a interesting/compelling story and a bad a$$ trailer they’ll come… I hope this movie is made w/ studio backing that gives Mc lots of freedom. Spawn needs 30-50 million dollar budget IMO. Pitch Black had a 23 million dollar budget. That was over a decade ago!

    • I agree with Brian all the way. You gotta put more money into making a Spawn movie. OR else it’s going to turn out like Dragon Ball Evolution ..

  17. Well that does not give me any confidence at all in this project, I really loved the comics, Spawn was easily one of my top 5 back in the day. The movie was kinda OK but could have been so much better. Then comes the news of a reboot and I started to get a little excited but now I am wary because it sounds like he is not really interested, would rather not be bothered about it because he has more important things to do than be writing this. And 10 mil budget? uhm No I don’t see how this will really work on a budget that small. I can’t obviously judge a film that has not even had one thing shot or any casting done of course and the jury is out. But then again, will he ever finish it?

  18. Idris Elba would make a great Spawn. And whoever said Spawn is Spider-Man with a cape has clearly never read one issue.

    • Nailed it!!!! Idris would probably kill it. And yeah that dude obviously has NOT read a single spawn page. Go Todd make it great man!!

  19. Blomkamp is a master of making the most of his budget, get him on board even though it would never happen it could be cool.

  20. Yeesh. Does he also want to star in the movie too?

  21. get foxx as spawn please.

  22. “Spawn”…still sounds like fish-eggs!

    • Do people normally laugh at your jokes or are you trying to be ironically unfunny?

  23. Guys shhhhhhhh!! he’s gonna make it a musical.

  24. Do a TV show. 6 episodes on cable. These comic book movies are ridiculous. TV is the way to go. You can actually get a whole story told in a 6 episode storyline season. Imagine X-men in miniseries form with good storylines. That would be amazing.

    • They already did a TV show on HBO and they were obviously out of ideas and it was too expensive by the end of the 2nd season

  25. Idris Elba would be a fantastic Spawn, and someone mentioned the legendary Keith David. But what about Dennis Haysbert? I think he would be a pretty good contender, and he can play a bada** to boot.

  26. Idris Elba would be cool as Spawn.
    Rob Zombie to direct in my opinion (and a humble on at that)
    He can do horror, can draw a crowd and the soundtrack would be bloody awesome!

    • Brilliant!

    • Rob Zombie can stay as far away from Spawn as possible, he is a sh*t director.

  27. I want Jamie Fox to play as Spawn in the Spawn reboot movie and action figure toys.

  28. The Prowler…..Yes! Oh, my bad.

  29. Michael Jai White or else.

    • I’d rather have or else then….Cause Jai white is about as good of an actor as ANY homeless guy off the street, he is a poor mans Jason Statham with even less acting ability, he has even less acting ability than Jason Momoa…Hell I’d rather have the homeless man off the street. Lets leave Jai White on the watch instantly where he belongs, or maybe he can switch places with the homeless guy

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