Tempe, Ariz – November 2, 2021 Today, Emmy-winning SPAWN creator and director/producer Todd McFarlane announced the launch of a dedicated television development and production arm of McFarlane Films. Through McFarlane Films, which has a first-look television deal with wiip (MARE OF EASTTOWN), McFarlane and his President of Television, Sean Canino, identify and develop new emerging talent, creator-owned properties, independent brands, stories, and characters.
McFarlane Films’ initial television development slate includes projects from established creators such as Thomas Lennon, co-creator of RENO 911! and writer of NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM; Anders Weidemann, who adapted HBO’s BEARTOWN and created Paramount +’s INTERROGATION; prolific graphic-novel author, Sean Lewis; and ShadowMachine, who produced BOJACK HORSEMAN and Guillermo Del Toro’s upcoming PINOCCHIO.
“Having been in development with Jason Blum at Blumhouse, along with attaching Jamie Foxx on a potential SPAWN movie franchise, other opportunities both in film and television came forward which led to this expansion in entertainment,” said Todd McFarlane, McFarlane Films CEO. “Films, television, and video games are all areas I intend to spend my creative energy on a steady basis.
“I’ve spent decades succeeding in other business fields, going up against some of the biggest names in those industries (Marvel, DC Comics, Hasbro, and Mattel toys) and have been able to bring to market many successful products and ideas those larger companies were not able to give to consumers. I now intend to take those same creative and business practices into Hollywood full-time.”
“As a creator first and CEO of my businesses, I pride myself on finding talented creators and inspiring ideas… then bring them to the world. Two of our newest projects, (one live-action the other stop-motion animation) have talented folks that will help get these new concepts onto the airwaves. Thomas Lennon, Anders Weidemann, Sean Lewis, our partners at wiip, and ShadowMachine are but a few of the folks we’ve begun this journey with.”
A force in the world of entertainment, McFarlane’s characters have become wildly popular and critically acclaimed in various mediums. SPAWN has won two Emmy Awards for HBO, and the character of VENOM, which McFarlane co-created, gave rise to the recent feature film of the same name, accumulating a worldwide box office total of more than $1 billion to date.
Beyond film and television, McFarlane has established himself as a multimedia maverick with the Midas touch throughout the past three decades. McFarlane co-founded Image Comics, the world’s largest independent comic book company, at which he currently serves as President. He established McFarlane Toys, one of the world’s Top-5 action-figure manufacturers with licenses ranging from the Disney Mirrorverse to GAME OF THRONES. And, he created SPAWN – the Guinness World Record-holder for the longest-running creator-owned comic book series.
In launching its new television division, McFarlane Films reveals two new premium series in development:
The first is titled McFARLAND, a stop-motion, animated event series created by Thomas Lennon in partnership with ShadowMachine and wiip. The project is described as NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM meets TOY STORY in TWIN PEAKS, which will feature original McFarlane Toys. McFarlane and Lennon will executive produce the series, along with Canino and ShadowMachine.
“It is a good bet that when you combine the forces of Todd McFarlane and Tom Lennon, good things will happen…and that those things will most likely happen in stop-motion animation. We’re thrilled to be a part of the fun!,” said ShadowMachine’s Alex Bulkley.
McFarlane Films has also partnered with wiip and Epicenter (1BR, JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH) to develop the live-action drama series, “THUMBS”, based on the best-selling graphic novel written by Sean Lewis (COYOTES) with art by Hayden Sherman. Anders Weidemann will adapt the project. The story follows 17-year-old Charlie “Thumbs” James, gamer and social outsider, who enters an esports tournament hoping to win a scholarship from tech billionaire Adrien Camus’ gamer academy so he can get his ticket out of his neighborhood. “Thumbs” soon finds himself fighting real life and death battles in a covert war between Camus’ teenage army and a neo-fascist anti-tech movement that is about to take over the U.S. Weidemann, McFarlane, and Canino will executive produce, along with Allard Cantor and Jarrod Murray through Epicenter, with Lewis on-board as a producer.
“It’s exciting, obviously, and a bit overwhelming as I remember buying Todd’s books at my local pharmacy store,” said Lewis. “And when someone wants to do your’s and Hayden’s comic, THUMBS, as a show, whoa! And that person is Todd McFarlane. Wait, what? I’ve been lucky enough to work with Todd on his comics, and he’s a force of nature. He tends to will things into existence. From day one, it’s just been forward momentum for this project.”
Weidemann added: “The storyteller, father, and gamer within me all fell quickly and madly in love with Sean Lewis’ and Hayden Sherman’s graphic novel THUMBS, a vividly imaginative, fun-packed and disturbing ride into the not-too-distant future. It’s a heart-pumping tale about gaming, the metaverse, and the entire fate of human existence. Simply put, it’s one of those stories I’d wish I was able to watch with my 12-year-old son. Hey wait: I will.”
“We were looking for a way to bring Sean Lewis’s timely graphic novel to life, and we thought entrusting comics legend Todd McFarlane to lead the charge would be a great start,” said Cantor and Murray. “We also couldn’t ask for better studio partners than ours at wiip, who are some of the smartest and most supportive creative minds in town. So, we turned to accomplished premium series creator, Anders Weidemann, to develop a serialized narrative that will captivate audiences everywhere.”
Last June, McFarlane Films announced it is developing SAM & TWITCH into a live-action TV series. Inspired by the iconic characters from McFarlane’s Spawn comic, the premium drama series follows detectives Sam Burke and Max “Twitch” Williams as they fight the evils of a near-future New York City. SAM & TWITCH is being adapted by executive producers Jason Smilovic and Todd Katzberg for McFarlane Films and wiip.
“The rare combination of artistic genius and trailblazing entrepreneurship that defines Todd’s career over the last thirty years is a true marvel,” said wiip’s Mark Roybal. “He is a world-class, award-winning storyteller, a mogul in multiple industries, and above all, a devoted family man. wiip’s strategic partnership in television with McFarlane Films, led by Sean Canino, allows us to tap into a pipeline of global IP and collaborate with emerging voices in the comic book world which will bring audiences into new universes infused with Todd’s wonderfully twisted vision of the world.”
Todd McFarlane and McFarlane Films are repped by CAA.
McFarlane has also earned two Emmy Awards, 1 Grammy Award, two Grammy nominations, two MTV Video Music Awards, a Canadian MuchMusic Award, and more than 150 International awards in action figures, comic books, and publishing.
Todd McFarlane’s Spawn is one of the world’s best-selling and longest-running monthly creator-owned superhero comic books, with hundreds of millions sold worldwide in more than 120 countries. The title’s hugely popular 1992 debut sold an astonishing 1.7 million copies – an unprecedented feat for a creator-owned comic. With the release of “Spawn #301,” McFarlane earned the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the “Longest-Running Creator-Owned Superhero Comic Book Series.” The Spawn live-action film opened at theaters nationwide, ranking second at the box office in week one, grossing more than $100 million. With McFarlane as its executive producer, the comic was also adapted for television, becoming a two-time Emmy Award-winning animated series on HBO. At the time, it was HBO Home Video’s top-selling original programming video of all time.
McFarlane became a true comic book superstar for his record-setting work on Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man franchise, a title that Marvel gave him to write, pencil, and ink. The first issue sold an astonishing 2.5 million copies in 1990 – making it the bestselling comic of its time. During this time, McFarlane co-created the character Venom.
2021 “The Year of Spawn” continues with McFarlane’s new titles from the Spawn mythology, setting three record-breaking sales in less than five months. “Gunslinger Spawn #1” is the biggest launch of a new superhero monthly title in the comic industry of the past 25 years. “Gunslinger Spawn #1’s” total sales are bigger than Marvel’s Spider-Gwen launch in 2015, and there hasn’t been another new character comic close to that number in the 20 years prior to that. The sales of “King Spawn #1” surpassed The Avengers record, becoming the comic industry’s highest ordered monthly superhero launch in the 21st century, while McFarlane’s “Spawn’s Universe #1” (June 2021) was Image Comics’ top-selling first issue of the 21st century.
McFarlane Toys is one of America’s top action figure manufacturers, raising the bar and redefining the art of action figures. An industry leader, McFarlane Toys is one of the most respected toy manufacturers globally and a licensee of world-class brands and leading global franchises including DC, Disney, Dune, Avatar, Netflix, The Witcher, and The Princess Bride. For more than 27 years, McFarlane has continued to hold its own among the industry giant toy companies Hasbro and Mattel in mass-market retail shelf space – an impressive accomplishment in this $1.44 billion industry. Under McFarlane’s creative direction and business acumen, McFarlane Toys action figures and toys are consistently on the “Best Seller” and “Top Toy” lists at national mass retailers, including Target, Walmart, and Amazon.com.
In 2020, McFarlane has delved into the world of music, helping create award-winning music videos for such groups, including Korn and Pearl Jam. He created Korn’s Freak on A Leash video that won a Grammy for Best Short Form Video and collaborated with Eddie Vedder to create an animated video based on Pearl Jam’s song Do the Evolution from the album Yield. The video received over 40 international artistic awards and was nominated for “Best Short Form Music Video” for the 1999 Grammy Awards.