MGM's Candyman reboot from producer Jordan Peele finds its director in newcomer Nia DaCosta, helmer of acclaimed indie drama Little Woods. Perhaps epitomized by the smash critical and commercial success of Ryan Coogler's Black Panther, Hollywood seems to be going through a renaissance when it comes to major films starring black actors and made by black filmmakers. The movie industry seems to have finally woken up to the idea that moviegoers want more variation in the variety of stories told through film, and the variety of people telling them.
2017 also saw another major success for the idea of cinema needing more diversity, with the racially-charged horror film Get Out. While the film's story required a mostly white cast, Get Out served as the directorial debut of Jordan Peele, who also wrote the script. Peele initially gained fame as one half of the comedy duo Key & Peele, but Get Out - while sporting some funny moments - was a horror tale through and through, and unfolded from an unapologetically black viewpoint, often highlighting just how tense race relations can still be in America. Despite - or in some cases, perhaps because of - this political edge, Get Out was embraced by both critics and audiences of all backgrounds.
Naturally, when reports first surfaced in September that Peele was set to produce - and possibly direct - a remake of 1992's Candyman, people took notice. Like Get Out, Candyman took an often harsh look at American race relations, with the titular boogeyman (Tony Todd) even having an origin story involving being murdered by a white lynch mob for daring to father a child with a white woman in the 1890s. Unfortunately, MGM now confirms that Peele won't direct, although he's made a very intriguing selection for the job: up-and-coming indie director Nia DaCosta. DaCosta's sole directorial credit is the critically lauded 2018 drama Little Woods, starring Tessa Thompson.
Outside of the announcement as DaCosta as director, MGM has also set a release date of June 12, 2020 for this new take on Candyman that's being described as a "spiritual sequel" to the original. What exactly that means for the story is unclear, as the studio also refers to the film as a re-imagining, seemingly implying no direct narrative links to the Tony Todd series, and no mention is made of Todd returning to star. One thing that is known is that the new Candyman will journey back to the setting of the original, Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing projects, although those buildings have now been torn down and the neighborhood has been gentrified.
Based on the information so far, Peele - who co-wrote the screenplay - clearly intends to infuse this new take on Candyman with the same racially charged dynamic as he brought to Get Out, although Candyman fans will likely consider his update a logical extension of the 1992 premise. While DaCosta doesn't bring a long resume with her into the job, horror films often serve as the first shot for young directors looking to make their mark on Hollywood, and Peele selecting her suggests she has his utmost confidence. In 2020, Candyman will return to shed innocent blood once again, and perhaps further spur on a rise in hit horror films from black directors.
Candyman stalks theaters everywhere on June 12, 2020.