Yes, what you’re looking at is a picture of a man in purple spandex riding a horse. That’s Billy Zane in costume as The Phantom, in the eponymous 1996 mega-flop from Paramount Pictures. Someone in Hollywood must have fond memories of the cult classic though, because the character is now getting another shot at the big screen.
Created by Lee Falk in 1936, The Phantom is a costumed crime fighter operating in the fictional African country of Bangalla. He doesn’t have any superpowers, and instead relies on his intelligence, strength and fearsome reputation of being an immortal ghost in order to conquer his foes.
Of course, he’s not a ghost, but in fact the twenty-first person to don the purple costume. The story begins in 1536, with a sailor named Christopher Walker. When Walker’s father is killed by pirates, he swears an oath to fight evil as the Phantom. The role of the Phantom is then passed from father to son, generation after generation.
He operates out of a place called the Skull Cave, has a trained wolf named Devil, and a horse named Hero. Seriously, I’m not making this stuff up. Check the Wikipedia page if you don’t believe me.
Hollywood has, predictably, been unkind to the comic strip hero, in various TV and film adaptations. The 1996 effort cost Paramount $45 million and brought in a meagre $17 million. Syfy tried to get a modern-day television series going at one point as well but it only lasted one season. Ever since then, the purple legend has been collecting dust.
According to The Tracking Board, a new adaptation is now in the works, from executive producer Drew Simon and the Mark Gordon Company. They’re currently looking for a writer, and if all goes as planned, then The Phantom will ride onto the big screen once more.
Source: Tracking Board