For years, Paramount Pictures has a handful of franchises that have kept them afloat: Transformers, Mission: Impossible, Terminator, and a few scattered others. But the studio is perpetually in need of major intellectual property – and in today’s Hollywood, that means they especially need source material for comic book movies.
Now they’ve struck a development, production, and distribution deal with Steven Paul, a producer who recently acquired a majority interest in the Atlas Comics library, to adapt several of those original comics into movies. A writers’ room will be formed “to develop and build out the universe of characters from the expansive Atlas library,” and if you’ve been paying attention to the development of rooms like this in the industry, you already know that there’s apparently only one person ever hired to oversee them: writer/producer Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, Batman & Robin).
The Hollywood Reporter brings word that production on the first of many Atlas Comics-inspired movies is slated to get underway sometime in the second quarter of 2020, and the first film in this pact will be released in 2021. The plan is to produce and release at least one superhero project each year after that. Paul, who wrote Baby Geniuses and produced films like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and 2017’s Ghost in the Shell, will produce these movies alongside Atlas production president Spike Seldin (The A-Team) and Goldsman.
Atlas Comics was a precursor to Marvel Comics and was the early home of heroes like Captain America and the Human Torch. But when superhero comics began to fall out of popularity, Atlas chased what was selling and expanded to cover tons of different genre material. “What an opportunity that we have with the Atlas universe, which spans so many genres: superheroes, sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, horror, creatures, vampires, cops, cowboys, soldiers,” Goldsman said. “The breadth of this material is extraordinary.”
No one revealed any specifics about which characters were going to make the jump to the big screen first, but at a press conference in front of “a dozen blown-up Atlas covers including Tiger-Man, Sgt. Stryker’s Death Squad and Devilina,” Paul said they were still counting the characters they had the rights to.
Atlas Comics featured characters like The Scorpion, an immortal adventurer; The Grim Ghost, a dead robber forced to work for Satan and bring evil souls to hell; and The Demon Hunter, a magical cult member who has the power of invisibility. (You can find some more characters from Atlas’s old roster here.)
Goldsman will oversee a nine-person writers’ room for these films. For those keeping count at home, this will be at least the sixth major writers’ room Goldsman will be involved with over the past several years, factoring in his work on Star Trek, Transformers, G.I. Joe/Micronauts, the Ology series, and Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Universe. Granted, some of those projects haven’t been made yet, but here’s a thought: maybe hire someone else to oversee this stuff? How is it possible that Goldsman’s skillset is this valuable to major studio filmmaking? I understand that managing a team of writers is a difficult job, but you’re telling me that no one else in the industry is capable of fulfilling that task? In the words of Ron Burgundy:
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