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Shazam! dead

Shazam.jpgYou know when you hear "a reliable source" from a site or a media outlet and instantly groan as you read the latest rumour about someone appearing as Catwoman or some other rubbish? Well this is really is a reliable source. From the writer of Shazam! comes the news that the film in it's current incarnation is dead.

According to John August, who was writing the script, the project has faltered and he even says "It ain't happening".

It seems that a lot of time has passed since John August delivered a draft for the script at New Line. His draft there returned some notes from the studio which he then went to work on, but the WGA strike intervened.

At that point the Shazam! story was rather like a comedy with lots of action. It was described in a one liner as "Big but with superpowers", something rather limiting, but essentially the case, for the character is a teenager who can change into a fully fledged superhero with the utterance of the word, but inside he's still a teenager.

When he returned to the script after the strike the film was at Warner Bros. He received confirmation from executives there that the script needed the rewrite that New Line had requested. However when you start reading what happened it seems that they never really read the script or the notes and just asked him to press on with his contracted rewrites.

There follows frustration and lack of communication, and August even tries to get the Warner Bros. executives involved in the process, and to his credit he manages to get them involved. However they then wanted a much darker story, a la Dark Knight, and so he adhered to their notes and his contract, and delivered that less comic and much darker story. In his own words:

"...a much harder movie, with a lot more Black Adam. This wasn't "Big, with super powers" anymore. It was Black Adam versus Captain Marvel, with a considerable push into dark territory and liminal badlands like Nanda Parbat. It wasn't the action-comedy I'd signed on to write, but it was a movie I could envision getting made. The producer and director liked it, and turned it in to the studio while I was in France."

Then he simply says that when he got back the project was dead.

"By "dead," I mean that it won't be happening. I don't think it's on the studio's radar at all. It may come back in another incarnation, with another writer, but I can say with considerable certainty that it won't be the version I developed."

He also, very sensibly, closes his explanation of what happened with a disclaimer, that this is his interpretation of what happened, that many meetings occurred without him (as they do) and that it is possible his scripts were rubbish and that's what put them off.

This is a very well written and interesting post to read over at John August's site, which is a fascinating read for any scriptwriter anyway, and it ends happily with August revealing he's writing a project he really wanted to and could only have happened if Shazam! hadn't worked out, so it's good for everyone involved.

"The larger point of this retelling is to help readers understand that at every level in a screenwriter's career, there are projects that simply don't happen, mostly for reasons you couldn't anticipate at the outset...My next movie is at that studio, so while I'm frustrated by the way they handled this project, I have no axe to grind. When they have a movie they want and support, they're top-notch."

I'd recommend reading the full account by John August for just what happens, for anyone involved in any kind of project in a large corporate there are recognisable issues here. However it boils down to the fact that currently, August's version of Shazam! is dead.



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