Thanks potentially in part to Blumhouse having sat on an in-development Spawn movie for a number of years, Todd McFarlane has announced that he is launching his own television production arm of his company under the name of McFarlane Films. Not only did the Spawn creator announce the new branch of his business, but also revealed that they have a number of first look arrangements in place, and will be looking for emerging talent, creator-owned properties, stories and characters. Some of the first projects will come from Reno 911! co-creator Thomas Lennon, Bojack Horseman producer ShadowMachine and graphic novel author Sean Lewis to name a few.
A live action Sam & Twitch series, which is inspired by characters from the Spawn comics, will be one the first projects of McFarlane Films. Spawn has provided much of McFarlane’s contributions to Hollywood, including the 1990s HBO animated series, and of course Todd McFarlane currently holds a Guinness World Record for having the longest running creator-owned comic book series. He also co-created the character of Venom, and we know how well that is going for a certain studio right now.
“Having been in development with Jason Blum at Blumhouse, along with attaching Jamie Foxx on a potential SPAWN movie franchise, other opportunities both in film and television came forward which led to this expansion in entertainment,” Todd McFarlane, McFarlane Films CEO said. “Films, television, and video games are all areas I intend to spend my creative energy on a steady basis.”
He elaborated, “I’ve spent decades succeeding in other business fields, going up against some of the biggest names in those industries (Marvel, DC Comics, Hasbro, and Mattel toys) and have been able to bring to market many successful products and ideas those larger companies were not able to give to consumers. I now intend to take those same creative and business practices into Hollywood full-time. As a creator first and CEO of my businesses, I pride myself on finding talented creators and inspiring ideas… then bring them to the world. Two of our newest projects, (one live-action the other stop-motion animation) have talented folks that will help get these new concepts onto the airwaves. Thomas Lennon, Anders Weidemann, Sean Lewis, our partners at wiip, and ShadowMachine are but a few of the folks we’ve begun this journey with.”
Along with this, two other projects coming from McFarlane Films are McFarland and Thumbs, the former being a stop-motion animation event that has been described as “Night at The Museum meets Toy Story in Twin Peaks” and will feature a number of original McFarlane toys, which you can see the sense in from a business perspective. That series will be executively produced by McFarlane and Lennon, who will be working with Canino and ShadowMachine.
“It is a good bet that when you combine the forces of Todd McFarlane and Tom Lennon, good things will happen…and that those things will most likely happen in stop-motion animation. We’re thrilled to be a part of the fun!,” ShadowMachine’s Alex Bulkley said.
The second series, Thumbs, is based on a graphic novel by Lewis, and will be a live action drama about a 17 year old called Charlie “Thumbs” James, who enters an esports contest with the hope of winning a scholarship from a gamer academy in order to escape his neighborhood. However, he soon becomes embroiled in a live and death fight and the story overall taken on something of a Ready Player One feel. McFarlane will again be executive producer on the series, along with Canino, Allard Cantor and Jarrod Murray, while author Lewis will produce.
“We were looking for a way to bring Sean Lewis’s timely graphic novel to life, and we thought entrusting comics legend Todd McFarlane to lead the charge would be a great start,” Cantor and Murray said. “We also couldn’t ask for better studio partners than ours at wiip, who are some of the smartest and most supportive creative minds in town. So, we turned to accomplished premium series creator, Anders Weidemann, to develop a serialized narrative that will captivate audiences everywhere.”
All in all it is an exciting time for McFarlane, and there is probably no better time for him to dip his toe into a new area of the industry. Who knows, this could lead to us finally getting that Spawn movie that has been tossed around for a decade without moving anywhere. McFarlane was asked about a potential “Spawn Universe”, but will not be rushing into anything.
“It’s possible. It’s the question I keep asking people. Marvel did it. DC did it. Can it be done again? I don’t know. But let’s just be clear. DC started theirs in the ’30s, 1930s. Marvel started theirs in 1960. So, they’ve had 50-, 60-year head starts. It’s not like it’s going to happen overnight, but if you’re looking for properties that are out there that are superhero that are intertwined, or whatever else, and you want to base it on sales and branding and how it’s done over the years, at the top of the chart, it’s Spawn and his world, right now, and nothing is close. Nothing is close.”