Shazam! is an upcoming American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name, produced by New Line Cinema and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is intended to be the seventh installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film is directed by David F. Sandberg from a screenplay by Henry Gayden, and a story by Gayden and Darren Lemke. The film stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson, a teenage boy who can transform via the magic word "Shazam" into an adult superhero, played by Zachary Levi. Shazam! also features Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Faithe Herman, and Djimon Hounsou as supporting characters. It will be the first film version of the character since the 1941 serial Adventures of Captain Marvel (the character's original name) and will be the first full-length feature film centered around the character.
|Directed by||David F. Sandberg|
|Produced by||Peter Safran|
|Screenplay by||Henry Gayden|
|Music by||Benjamin Wallfisch|
|Edited by||Michel Aller|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
Development of a live-action Shazam! film began in the early 2000s, but languished in development hell for many years. The film went into pre-production in 2008 with director Peter Segal and writer John August, and Dwayne Johnson considered to star as the villain Black Adam, but the project fell through. William Goldman, Alec Sokolow, Joel Cohen, Bill Birch, and Geoff Johns, among others, were all attached to the project as writers at various points. Warner Bros. then officially announced the film in 2014, with Johnson attached to star as either Shazam or Black Adam. He would later be cast in January 2017 to lead a solo Black Adam development project. Sandberg signed on to direct Shazam! in February 2017 and Levi was cast that October. Principal photography began in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in January 2018, with most of the film shot at Pinewood Toronto Studios, and wrapped in May 2018.
Billy Batson, a troubled 14-year-old orphan living in Philadelphia, is set up to move into a new foster home - his seventh in a row - with the Vazquez family and their other five foster kids. One day, Billy gets on a subway car and finds himself transported to a different realm, where an ancient wizard gives him the power to transform into a godlike adult superhero by uttering the word "Shazam!" Billy and his new foster brother Freddy Freeman must learn what Billy's new powers are and how to use them in order to stop the villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana from wielding powers of his own.
- Asher Angel and Zachary Levi as Billy Batson / Shazam: A boy who was given his powers by an ancient wizard and transforms into an adult with the powers of superhuman strength on par with superman, speed, flight, and other abilities by speaking the word "Shazam".
- Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana: One of the smartest men alive, but one given to squandering his gifts on ridiculous inventions that no one could understand. Sivana himself had been summoned by the Wizard Shazam as a child, but was not chosen as his champion, leading Sivana to spend his life trying to unlock the secrets of magic through science.
- Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman: Billy's foster brother and best friend, a disabled superhero enthusiast who is the only person that knows that he is Shazam!.
- Djimon Hounsou as Shazam: An ancient wizard who bestows his powers on Billy Batson so that he can magically transform into an adult superhero, who takes on the wizard's name in his adult form.
- Grace Fulton as Mary Bromfield: One of Billy's foster siblings at his new home.
- Ian Chen as Eugene Choi: One of Billy's foster siblings at his new home.
- Jovan Armand as Pedro Peña: One of Billy's foster siblings at his new home.
- Faithe Herman as Darla Dudley: One of Billy's foster siblings at his new home.
- Cooper Andrews as Victor Vasquez: The foster father of the group home where Billy and his friends live.
- Marta Milans as Rosa Vasquez: The foster mother of the group home where Billy and his friends live.
New Line Cinema began development of a Shazam! live-action feature film in the early 2000s, with multiple screenplay drafts by William Goldman, the team of Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen, Bryan Goluboff, and John August. The version of the Shazam! script written by August, which went into pre-production in 2008, was an action-comedy which focused on the origin story of the hero, then known by his original name of Captain Marvel, and his young alter ego, Billy Batson. Peter Segal was attached as director and actor Dwayne Johnson was in talks to appear as the film's villain, Black Adam. The Shazam! film was originally being produced by New Line Cinema, which was absorbed into Warner Bros. during the course of development.
Following the success of Warner's noir-inspired Batman film The Dark Knight and the commercial failure of its lighter, family-friendly Speed Racer during the summer of 2008, August departed from the project citing pressure from the studio to make the screenplay darker and more serious. By the summer of 2009, Bill Birch and Geoff Johns, a prominent DC Comics writer, were assigned to write the screenplay, while Segal remained attached as director. In August 2010, the studio considered canceling the theatrical movie in favor of a live-action series for prime time network television. In December 2013, Segal stated that the film would not be happening, as the similarities between Captain Marvel and Superman had become an obstacle after successful launch of Man of Steel.
While development on the Shazam! film was in limbo, DC Comics rebooted the franchise as part of their New 52 relaunch in 2012. At this time, due to ongoing trademark conflicts with Marvel Comics, who owned the trademark for "Captain Marvel" for use with their own character of the same name, DC renamed their Captain Marvel superhero character "Shazam". It had always been required to market and promote the character using the trademark Shazam! since acquiring the publishing rights from Fawcett Comics in 1972. Captain Marvel had originated at Fawcett in 1939, but fell into limbo after 1953 following a long legal battle with DC over Captain Marvel's similarities to Superman.
In April 2014, Warner Bros. revealed the upcoming slate of films based on DC Comics properties. A Justice League film was set to be released in 2017, alongside upcoming adaptations of Shazam!, Fables, and 100 Bullets. The Shazam! film was tentatively set for release in July 2016. Dwayne Johnson confirmed he would be starring in Shazam! that August, but was undecided between portraying Shazam or Black Adam. In September, Johnson was confirmed to play Black Adam, while Darren Lemke was set to write the script In January 2017, Henry Gayden was hired to rewrite Lemke's script. In February 2017, David F. Sandberg was in talks with the studio to direct Shazam!, Dwayne Johnson was set to first star in a Black Adam solo film, as opposed to appearing as the villain in Shazam!, while Doctor Sivana, another archnemesis of Shazam, became the film's main villain.
By July 2017, the studio had begun active development on Shazam! and Sandberg was confirmed as director, with production to begin in early 2018. Dwayne Johnson relayed that a different creative team was now involved than when he first signed on to the film, and stated his excitement over the studio's decision to split the film into two separate movies. After being cast as the lead, Zachary Levi stated in an interview, "the idea is that it's gonna feel like the movie Big, but with super powers" when he was asked about what direction DC Films and New Line Cinema are going for with Shazam! The film was later stated by Warner Bros. to be based upon based on the 2012-2013 Shazam! backup feature from the Justice League comic book by writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank, which told a modernized version of Shazam's origin.
In August 2017, director David F. Sandberg stated that the film would be the next to shoot in the DC universe, and by the end of the month, it had begun pre-production. By October 2017, cinematographer Maxime Alexandre and production designer Jennifer Spence, who previously worked with Sandberg on Annabelle: Creation, were added to the production. The next month, Aquaman stunt coordinator Kyle Gardiner was hired to work on the film's action sequences. On January 12, 2018, the film release date was officially announced.
By September 2014, Dwayne Johnson was set to portray Black Adam in the film, but by July 2017 he had left the project to pursue a Black Adam solo film. In August 2017, the casting process for Shazam and other characters for film had begun. Sandberg had stated in an interview that instead of de-aging an actor using special effects or CGI, he would cast both a child actor and an adult actor for the role of the main character. Zachary Levi, John Cena, Zane Holtz, Jake McDorman, Derek Theler and Billy Magnussen had all met with Sandberg for the role of Shazam. By October 2017, Levi was cast in the titular role. In November, Grace Fulton joined the cast as Mary Bromfield, one of Billy Batson's foster siblings. Fulton is reteaming with the director after Annabelle: Creation. Later that month, Mark Strong was in final negotiations to play Dr. Sivana. The British actor confirmed he will be playing the role by January 2018. By November 2017, Asher Angel was cast as the titular hero's child-age alter ego Billy Batson. In December, Jack Dylan Grazer was cast as Freddy Freeman, Batson's best friend. Later that month, Jovan Armand, Ian Chen, Faithe Herman, and Cooper Andrews were cast as Pedro Peña, Eugene Choi, and Darla Dudley, while Andrews will portray Victor Vazquez, Batson's foster parent. By January 2018, Ron Cephas Jones entered talks to play the role of the wizard Shazam, who grants Batson his powers. Later that month, Spanish actress Marta Milans joined the cast to play one of the foster parents at the home where Billy lives. By the end of January 2018, actress Lotta Losten revealed that she has a role in the film. On April 23, 2018, Ross Butler was announced to have joined the cast. In July, it was announced that Djimon Hounsou had replaced Jones as the wizard Shazam during filming, due to Jones having scheduling conflicts. Henry Cavill was in talks to reprise his role as Superman from previous DCEU films for a cameo, but was unable to because of scheduling conflicts.
Shazam! principal photography began in Toronto and Hamilton, in Ontario, Canada on January 29, 2018, under the working title Franklin, and was scheduled to wrap by mid-May 2018. The film is set primarily in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and firmly established within the DCEU. A majority of the production was shot at Pinewood Toronto Studios and also held on several public locations around the city, including the University of Toronto and Woodbine Shopping Centre. In early March 2018, filming took place at Fort York National Historic Site in downtown Toronto. By early May 2018, Asher Angel, among other young cast members, finished filming his part. Principal photography wrapped on May 11, 2018.
David F. Sandberg's two-time collaborator Michel Aller will serve as the editor for Shazam!. Technicolor's VFX studio Mr. X, known for The Shape of Water and Tron: Legacy, will be providing visual effects. Moving Picture Company (MPC) will also be working on the VFX for the film.
On July 21, 2018, Benjamin Wallfisch was announced as the composer for Shazam!, marking the third collaboration with director David F. Sandberg after previously scoring Sandberg's Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation. Wallfisch previously provided additional music for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the second film in the DC Extended Universe.
In April 2018, a first look at Shazam! made its debut at CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas, Nevada with director David F. Sandberg introducing the behind-the-scene footage. During an interview with Film Riot Podcast in June 2018, Sandberg stated that "On this one, it was just like 'Yeah, I want this to be a classic superhero movie.' It takes place in the winter, so it's a lot of dark exteriors, but with a lot of colorful lights and stuff around them."
An official first look at Shazam in costume, along with Freddy Freeman, was revealed by Entertainment Weekly on July 11, 2018. On July 21, 2018, the first teaser trailer was shown at San Diego Comic-Con, with Sandberg, Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, and Jack Dylan Grazer in attendance. The trailer was later released online. It received a favorable response from journalists and audiences, who praised its humorous, zany tone.
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Described as a superhero version of Big (1988), the trailer’s comedic tone and star Zachary Levi’s presentation played well to the crowd. In what looks to be a film that balances heart, humor and stakes, Shazam! may end up being one of next year’s most pleasant surprises.