Press Release – SHAZAM! Begins Production

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Below you’ll find a press release sent to BOF by Warner Bros./New Line to announce the beginning of production for SHAZAM! — a film featuring a character near and dear to my heart and one I am personally very much looking forward to seeing.

Check out the press release below and I’ll provide a few thoughts afterwards…

BURBANK, CA, February 5, 2018 – Production is underway on New Line Cinema’s “Shazam!” David F. Sandberg (“Annabelle: Creation”) directs the origin story, which stars Zachary Levi (TV’s “Chuck”) as the titular DC Super Hero, along with Asher Angel (TV’s “Andi Mack”) as Billy Batson, and Mark Strong (the “Kingsman” movies) in the role of Super-Villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. Peter Safran (upcoming “Aquaman,” “The Conjuring” and “Annabelle” films) serves as the film’s producer.

We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard. Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong).

“Shazam!” also stars Jack Dylan Grazer (“IT”) as Billy’s best friend and ultimate superhero enthusiast, Freddy, part of the foster family that includes Mary, played by Grace Fulton (“Annabelle: Creation”); Darla, played by Faithe Herman (TV’s “This is Us”); Eugene, played by Ian Chen (TV’s “Fresh Off the Boat”); and Pedro, played by Jovan Armand (TV’s “Hawaii Five-O”). Cooper Andrews (TV’s “The Walking Dead”) and Marta Milans (TV’s “Killer Women”) play foster parents Victor and Rosa Vasquez, with Ron Cephas Jones (“This is Us”) as the Wizard.

Christopher Godsick, Jeffrey Chernov, Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia are serving as executive producers.

Sandberg’s creative team includes his “Annabelle: Creation” director of photography Maxime Alexandre, production designer Jennifer Spence, editor Michel Aller and costume designer Leah Butler.

Set primarily in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, principal photography for the film is taking place in Toronto.

Firmly set in the DC universe but with his own distinctly fun, family-centric tone, the character first appeared in Whiz Comics in 1940 and was created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck.

A New Line Cinema production, “Shazam!” is set for release on April 5, 2019. It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Now, as I warned you, my thoughts…

  • I love the synopsis and it makes this movie sound exactly as it should.
  • Though we already knew that Dr. Sivana was going to be the main villain and that Mark Strong had been cast, I got to say what great casting and there shouldn’t have been any other villain but this one in the first Captain Marvel — err — Shazam movie. (And the casting of Mark Strong was spot-F’n-on as Sinestro in GREEN LANTERN.  What a damn waste.)
  • The description of Billy Batson’s best friend Freddy (Freeman?) as the “ultimate superhero enthusiast,” makes me wonder if my take on how to do this movie, make it its own thing, and still be part of the DC universe, is going to actually pan out.  For the uninitiated, my take is that you make Bill Batson and his friends HUGE DC movie/comics fans and Superman is their favorite character.  And then, Billy actually gets to become F’n Superman!  From where I stand, it’s a much better — and frankly cooler way — to make SHAZAM! part of DC on film, than actually setting it within the cinematic universe where Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and company exist.  BUT…
  • Saying that it will be “firmly set in the DC universe” makes me think they are NOT going set it in its own, DC/Shazam cinematic universe.  Which means that they’ll probably shoehorn-in that ridiculous Henry Cavill Superman cameo that’s rumored.  Batman existing in the same world as Tawky Tawny and Mister Mind just doesn’t sit well with me.  Whatever, I guess. <sarcasm>All that matters is Superman showing up in SHAZAM! and being cool and stuff</sarcasm>.
  • Saying it will be “distinctly fun” and have a “family-centric tone,” is awesome.  If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it hundreds of times: SHAZAM! MUST be rated PG! Period. End of story.

Regardless, even if they make the HUGE mistake by setting this film DC on film “continuity” and have poor Henry Cavill and his mustache cameo just to show us that it’s all one happy DC on film continuity/family, I’m still going to cover, support, and root for SHAZAM! to be awesome.

And I really think it’s going to be awesome. – Bill “Jett” Ramey

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Bill
A life-long Batman fan, Bill "Jett" Ramey is the founder of BATMAN ON FILM. His passions include Dallas Cowboys football (fan since birth/season ticket holder since 2000), Elvis Presley, rock-and-roll, cold beer, dive bars, the city of Austin, his summer house in Minnesota, the University of Texas Longhorns...and BATMAN! He resides in the great state of Texas with his lovely wife, his youngest son, and 1.5 Boston Terriers.