If you want something done right – or at least done at all – do it yourself.
After more than a dozen years of running into brick walls all over Hollywood, Todd McFarlane thinks he’s finally figured out how to get “Spawn 2” made.
He’s going to do it all by himself.
“I’ve had the idea in my head for over 10 years,” McFarlane said, “and I want to write, produce and direct it and just go, ‘ here it is.’”
McFarlane, in New York City to promote McFarlane Toys’ 2010 product line at Toy Fair, gave Newsarama an exclusive update on his plans for the second “Spawn” picture.
“I’m 80% through the script, I did my due diligence, went around Hollywood,” McFarlane said, “…I listened to the pitch from all the big studios, but I just went, ‘nah, I need to make this small and tight and contained.’”
“And if we keep the budget small, they’ll allow me to do all of that. [But] if you blow up the budget…and I understand that. I wouldn’t hire me, either. But then I have to give it away.”
This isn’t the first time McFarlane has talked up “Spawn 2.” He’s been pitching the project for several years, making little progress. But after announcing last year he had begun work on the script for a ‘darker, grittier, scarier’ Spawn movie, this is the closest we’ve come to hearing about real movement on the sequel front.
The comics creator/toy designer has never directed a feature before. His most prominent directing work has been in the music video realm such as the animated music video he did for Pearl Jam in 1998.
By keeping the budget to within $20 million, extremely affordable for a Hollywood film based on a comic property, McFarlane believes whichever studio signs on would roll the dice on a rookie director. It probably wouldn’t hurt his cause that he created the character.
McFarlane claims three smaller Hollywood studios, which he would not name, are interested in the project.
“All the small guys,” McFarlane said, “go ‘that thing [1997’s “Spawn”] opened up to $20 million last time!’ We could do a talking head [indie movie] for 8-9 million bucks or we can add an extra million to the budget and make a Spawn movie? Rock and Roll!”
Maintaining creative control on this project is something McFarlane said he is not willing to give up.
“At this point in my life, I’d rather keep it smaller and maybe get fewer people to come see it, but actually just sort of extract out of my brain what I’ve been living with for the past 10 years.”
If he can’t come to terms with a studio, he is seriously considering another alternative.
“Another option is me just financing it myself,” McFarlane pointed out. “That way I can just … I own all of it.”
Bankrolling a picture is high risk/reward. It paid off handsomely for Mel Gibson with “The Passion of the Christ.” But ask Kevin Costner, who underwrote the disastrous “Swing Vote,” how self-financing worked out for him.
Clearly, cash flow won’t be a problem for McFarlane.
His toy company, McFarlane Toys, unveiled at Toy Fair 2010 upcoming figures based on the Fall videogame release “Halo: Reach”, new editions of its popular pro sports action figure lines and toys and props linked to Disney’s summer epic “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.”
He’s also busier on the comic book front than he’s been in years. He continues to ink “Haunt,” the book he co-created with Robert Kirkman, as well as inking “Spawn.” While still too busy to do more than guest-pencil the occasional issue or cover (he’s doing one of the seven covers for Spawn #200, due out February 24), he does admit to missing the monthly grind.
“It has been fun, but the [big difference] is that when I used to do it on a regular basis, that was my only job,” he said, adding that it’s tough to find time for creative work “and run the corporations at the same time. I’ve got three kids now, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to do all that and still spend time with my wife and sleep.”
“I believe that once my 15 minutes of fame goes away and my life winds down,” McFarlane said, “I’ll probably return to comic books. Not because I need to make money, not because I want to be famous… just because I enjoy drawing.”