The Walking Dead’s Greg Nicotero Boards Todd McFarlane’s Spawn To Help With VFX

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Todd McFarlane’s Spawn is shaping up to be quite the project. Not only has the comic book creator stepped up to the plate to direct his own property, but he snagged Jamie Foxx for the title role, Jeremy Renner as a lead, and the film now boasts one of the best practical visual effects guys in the business: Greg Nicotero. Fans of The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead will be very familiar with his take on the rotting, shambling walkers, as under his direction, the shows have continually concocted new and disgusting ideas on what a zombie can be.

Interestingly, Nicotero also worked on the 1997 Spawn. While the film contains some absolutely terrible CGI, the practical effects of the titular character’s costume and John Leguizamo’s clown makeup were genuinely creepy stuff, so hopefully he can bring some of that to this new adaptation. McFarlane has explained that the only reason he’s convinced the studio that he should direct is that the film will have a relatively smaller budget, with a consequence of that being a focus on practical effects rather than farming stuff out to CGI companies.

Here’s McFarlane himself on hiring Nicotero:

“When I conceived of the story to start with, I never really thought of it as big special effects extravaganza because I knew we weren’t going to have the budget for it. So I knew I was going to rely heavily on practical makeup and costuming, and one of the places that kept popping up was my good pal Greg Nicotero on his KNB Group. And he’s obviously done a tremendous amount of work on dozens and dozens of movies. The sort of serendipitous part of it is that Greg was there at the beginning 20 years ago for the original Spawn movie.”

Meanwhile, Nicotero added:

“I’ve been friends with Todd since we did the original Spawn, and the guy’s just a genius. I love the way his mind works. He thinks very, very graphically. I know he really loves the idea of Spawn being dark, and I love the animated show. It’s just a really great opportunity for us to get a chance to collaborate again.”

The pair go on to talk about their takes on Spawn, explaining that the idea is to tease audiences with glimpses of the character, essentially treating him in the same way as Steven Spielberg treated the shark in Jaws. 

As of now, I’m cautiously optimistic about Spawn. While McFarlane is an untested director, he (obviously) knows the character inside and out and he’s surrounding himself with an experienced and talented cast and crew. The film doesn’t yet have a release date, but it’s expected to begin production in early 2019 and, if things go to schedule, we could be seeing it in winter 2020. As always, watch this space for more.

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