||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (May 2015)|
Original release poster
|Directed by||Mark A.Z. Dippé|
|Produced by||Clint Goldman|
|Screenplay by||Alan B. McElroy|
|Story by||Alan B. McElroy
Mark A.Z. Dippé
by Todd McFarlane
|Starring||Michael Jai White
D. B. Sweeney
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Edited by||Rick Shaine
Michael N. Knue
Todd McFarlane Entertainment
Pull Down Your Pants Pictures
|Distributed by||New Line Cinema|
Spawn is a 1997 American supernatural horror superhero film based on the comic book character of the same name, written by Todd McFarlane and published by Image Comics. Directed and co-written by Mark A.Z. Dippé, the film stars Michael Jai White in the leading role. Spawn is an origin story of the character, and begins with the murder of Al Simmons, a soldier/assassin. He is then resurrected as Spawn, a reluctant, demonic leader of Hell's army. Spawn eventually refuses to lead Hell's army in the war against Heaven and turns against evil altogether. The film co-stars John Leguizamo as Clown/The Violator, Al's demonic guide and the film's antagonist and Nicol Williamson as Al's mentor Cogliostro. Martin Sheen, Theresa Randle, D. B. Sweeney, Melinda Clarke, and Frank Welker (as The Voice of Malebolgia) also star in the film.
Spawn was released in the United States on August 1, 1997. It was the first film to feature an African American portraying a major comic book superhero, followed by Steel. This was Williamson's final film appearance before his death on December 16, 2011.
Al Simmons (Michael Jai White), a special forces agent and black ops soldier, is betrayed by Jason Wynn (Martin Sheen), the head of a covert government agency. Wynn assigns Simmons a mission to take out a biochemical weapons plant in North Korea while ordering his top assassin, Jessica Priest (Melinda Clarke), to assassinate him. After Simmons dies from a gas fire caused by Wynn, he arrives in Hell, where the demon king Malebolgia (Frank Welker), offers him a Faustian deal: if Simmons becomes his eternal servant and leader of his army in Armageddon, he will be able to return to Earth to see his fiancée, Wanda Blake. Simmons accepts the offer and is returned to Earth.
When he returns, Simmons learns that five years have passed since his death. His widow Wanda is now married to his best friend, Terry Fitzgerald (D.B. Sweeney) and is living the life he no longer has a place in, with the daughter he never knew, Cyan. On his arrival to Earth, Simmons encounters a clown-like demon called the Violator (John Leguizamo) who acts as a guide, setting Simmons onto the path to evil. He also meets a mysterious old man named Cogliostro (Nicol Williamson) - a fellow Hellspawn who had freed his soul and now fights for Heaven. Wynn has become a high-class weapons dealer and has developed the ultimate biological weapon, Heat 16. During a reception, Simmons attacks Wynn, kills Jessica, and escapes, instinctively using Spawn's necroplasm armor.
Following Simmons' attack, the Violator convinces Wynn to have a device attached to his heart that will trigger the worldwide release of Heat 16 should his vital signs exhibit a flatline. The device is supposedly a safeguard against assassination attempts, but Malebolgia actually wants Simmons to kill Wynn and initiate the apocalypse. Spawn confronts the Violator, who turns into his demonic form and beats him down. Cogliostro rescues him and teaches him how to use his necroplasm armor before Simmons learns that Clown and Wynn are going to kill Terry, Cyan, and Wanda.
Meanwhile, Terry has just finished emailing a fellow newsman who sent him evidence exposing Wynn. After the transmission, Cyan enters the room, with Wynn right behind her. Wynn destroys Terry's computer and takes the family hostage. When Spawn arrives, he ends up almost killing Wynn, despite his warning that his death will launch the Heat 16 bombs. Only after realizing that Wynn's death would ultimately mean the death of Cyan does Spawn relent. Instead, Spawn extracts the device from Wynn's body before destroying it. His plans foiled, Clown draws Spawn and Cogliostro into Hell, where both battle the demon before subduing him. Spawn is confronted by Malebolgia, and tells him that he will never lead his army. He escapes with Cogliostro just before they are overwhelmed. The Violator follows and a final battle ensues between him and Spawn, ending with Spawn severing the demon's head with his chains. The Violator's head taunts the group and says that he will return, then melts and goes back to Hell. Wynn is arrested, and Spawn, realizing there is no place for him in Wanda's world anymore, dedicates himself to justice rather than succumbing to his lust for vengeance.
- Michael Jai White as Al Simmons/Spawn
- John Leguizamo as Clown/Violator
- Martin Sheen as Jason Wynn
- Nicol Williamson as Cogliostro
- Theresa Randle as Wanda Blake Simmons-Fitzgerald
- D. B. Sweeney as Terry Fitzgerald
- Melinda Clarke as Jessica Priest
- Frank Welker as the voice of Malebolgia
- Sydni Beaudoin as Cyan Fitzgerald
- Miko Hughes as Zack
- Michael Papajohn as Glen, Zack's father
Todd McFarlane had offers for a film adaptation of Spawn by Columbia Pictures just as the comic started in 1992, but the deal would fall out as the artist felt the studio was not giving him enough creative control. McFarlane sold the Spawn film rights to New Line Cinema for $1 in exchange for creative input and merchandising rights. New Line president Michael DeLuca, a comic book collector himself, expressed interest in having "a character that has as established an audience as Spawn", while declaring the chances of success deemed on an adaptation that "maintains a PG-13 rating but retains its darkness."
Hoping for the best visual effects possible, the film would be produced by Pull Down Your Pants Pictures, formed by three visual effects artists who met at Industrial Light & Magic: Mark A.Z. Dippé, Clint Goldman and Steve 'Spaz' Williams. Dippé would direct, Goldman produce, and Williams, the only one still on ILM at the time, be the second unit director and visual effects supervisor. Williams described the film as "our ticket out of the company", as both wanted more independence than ILM allowed. The script would be written by Alan B. McElroy, who along with Spawn's own comic book also wrote many episodes of the Todd McFarlane's Spawn animated series.
Michael Jai White found appeal in the story of Al Simmons, which he described as "the most tragic character I've encountered in any cinematic production", while providing the challenge of making audiences sympathize with a government assassin who comes back from hell. White had endure two to four hours of make-up appliance, that included a full glued-on bodysuit, eye-irritating yellow lenses, and a mask that restricted his breathing. The actor declared his long-time experience with martial arts helped him go through the uncomfortable prosthetics, that required "strong will and unbreakable concentration."
Spawn was originally green-lighted at $20 million. Every test of the visual effects lead New Line to increase the budget, culminating in $40 million, a third of which were spent on the effects. The shooting schedule was only 63 days, with a week cut so Goldman could lend $1 million for John Grower's Santa Barbara Studios to develop the digital Hell sequences. The visual effects shot count raised from 77 shots to over 400, created by 22 companies in the United States, Canada and Japan. ILM had the majority of work, 85 shots at the cost of $8.5 million, requiring 70 people and nearly 11 months to complete the work. The effects had the film's difficult sequences, including the Violator, Spawn's digital cape, and some of Spawn's transformations. More than half the effects shots were delivered about two weeks before the film's debut.
Differences from the comic
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2015)|
Although based on the comic book series, the theatrical version of Spawn changed several details from the comics when adapting it for film. Terry Fitzgerald, Al Simmons' best friend before his death, is a black man in the comics who was made into a white man in the film, portrayed by D. B. Sweeney. Todd McFarlane explained that this change was made by the studio to avoid having too many black leads and creating a perception the film was aimed at just a black target audience. In the comics, Cyan is Terry's daughter while in the movie she is instead Al's daughter. In the film, Wanda was engaged to Al prior to his death whereas in the comics the two were married.
In the comics, Al Simmons' murderer was Chapel, a character created by Rob Liefeld for the comic Youngblood, while Jessica Priest, a character created for the film, took Chapel's place in the story. Priest was later introduced into the comics and was made Al Simmons' murderer in place of Chapel. In the film, Simmons worked for an agency called A6 while in the comics he worked for the CIA.
The nature of Spawn's powers were also altered. While Cogliostro warns Spawn that he will die if his powers are drained, no reference is ever made to Spawn possessing a "counter" like he did in the comics.
Spawn was released on August 1, 1997 and its opening weekend take was $19,738,749 ranking it second place behind Air Force One. For its second weekend, the film remained at the third spot, dropping 54.7%, and grossing $8,949,953. The film was considered a modest box-office success; based on a $40 million budget, it grossed $54,870,174 domestically and $32,969,867 overseas for a worldwide total of $87,840,042.
The film received negative reviews from film critics. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the film is rated at 19% on the Tomatometer, based on 42 reviews with the consensus: "Spawn is an overbearing, over-violent film that adds little to the comic book adaptation genre." It holds a score of 34 out of 100 from 17 critics on Metacritic indicating generally unfavorable reviews . One of the few positive reviews was from Roger Ebert, who awarded the film 3½ out of 4 stars. He ended his review with, "As a visual experience, Spawn is unforgettable."
At the Saturn Awards, Spawn was nominated for Best Make-up. The film was also nominated for three Blockbuster Entertainment Awards for "Favorite Male Newcomer" (Michael Jai White), "Favorite Horror Supporting Actor" (John Leguizamo) and "Favorite Horror Supporting Actress" (Theresa Randle). At the Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival, Spawn was nominated for Best Film; the film was also nominated for & won the Best Special Effects award.
Both the PG-13 and the R-rated Director's Cut versions of the film were released on VHS on May 5, 1998. The Director's Cut was released on DVD on January 9, 1998 and on Blu-ray on July 10, 2012.
A sequel, tentatively titled Spawn 2, has been in development hell since 1998. Michael Jai White confirmed himself to be a part of the project in 2001, as did producer Don Murphy, though their involvements were not confirmed. McFarlane has stated that the film will center primarily on the detective characters Sam and Twitch, leaving Spawn without a speaking part. During a FanboyRadio.com interview, McFarlane confirmed that the sequel would be a franchise reboot, similar to Batman Begins and both the 2004 version of The Punisher and 2008's Punisher: War Zone.
In 2007, plans were made for McFarlane Funding to make a new Spawn film, scheduled for release in 2008. The film would be called Spawn, according to Home Media Magazine. While a guest on the Scott Ferrall show on Sirius radio, a caller asked if McFarlane had any plans to do the sequel. McFarlane said "It's coming out no matter what. Even if I have to produce, direct and finance it myself, it's going to come out."
It was announced in August 2009 that McFarlane had officially begun writing the screenplay for a new movie based on the character. "The story has been in my head for 7 or 8 years," McFarlane said. "The movie idea is neither a recap or continuation. It is a standalone story that will be R-rated. Creepy and scary." He added that "the tone of this 'Spawn' movie will be for more older audience. It’s not going to be a giant budget with a lot of special effects; it’s going to be more of a horror movie and a thriller movie, not a superhero one. Like the film 'The Departed.'"  On March 31, 2011, Todd McFarlane said that he was three quarters through the script, planned to make the movie for about 10 million dollars, and that it would feature no supervillains. Michael Jai White said in July 2011 that he was interested in returning to the role for the next film: "I hope [McFarlane] does [make the film]. In the next couple years I might have to produce it myself. It’s a no-brainer. Look at how these movies have done, superhero movies that have gone dark, and there hasn’t been one darker than Spawn. If we do it like we want to, it could be a game changer. I think Todd feels the same way as me – that we go R. Not a kinder, gentler Spawn, we go straight R – like pushing it, pushing NC-17. Give the fans what they expect. That edge brought [the comic book] to where it is. I would really like to show what that character can be." McFarlane revealed to MTV Geek that he's still working on the script and a new animated series, he also mentioned that an Academy Award winning actor had shown interest for the part of Spawn, but would not reveal his name at the time. In July 2013, Jamie Foxx said he was "aggressively pursuing' the Spawn reboot.
In August 2013, McFarlane hoped to start shooting in 2014, with the studio wanting his script in by December. On October 10, 2013, McFarlane revealed to Assignment X that he wanted the film to be an R-rated supernatural thriller without the superhero elements associated with Spawn.
|Spawn: The Album|
|Soundtrack album by Various|
|Released||July 29, 1997|
|Genre||Industrial metal, alternative metal, rap metal, nu metal, electronica, experimental|
|Singles from Spawn: The Album|
|Entertainment Weekly||(A) 08/08/1997|
Spawn: The Album was released in July 1997 and brought together popular rock bands at the time including Metallica, Korn, Slayer, Marilyn Manson and Silverchair with well-known electronic rock, hip hop, alternative rock, DJs, rock, jazz and electronic producers such as The Crystal Method, Roni Size, The Prodigy, Stabbing Westward, Filter, Incubus, Orbital and Soul Coughing. A similar concept was previously implemented on the rock/hip hop-infused Judgment Night soundtrack. The album debuted at #7 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and stayed in the chart for 25 weeks. The album is certified Gold for selling over 500,000 copies in America.
There are several limited editions of the soundtrack. A limited US version featuring different cover artwork plus the bonus track "This Is Not a Dream" (UK Mix) by Apollo 440, Morphine, Gravity Kills, Moby, DJ Spooky, Butthole Surfers and DJ Greyboy an Australian version featuring yet another cover (with the same image as on Spawn #39 and the marquee of Spawn: In the Demon's Hand) plus the bonus track; and a Japanese version with the same cover art as the Australian, including a bonus disc containing three remixes as well as the extra track 15. The McFarlane Collector's Club made an LP release available to members featuring the standard album art and a translucent red disc.
|US Limited Edition Bonus Track|
|15.||"This Is Not a Dream" (UK Mix)||Apollo 440 and Morphine||2:50|
|Australian Bonus Tracks|
|15.||"This Is Not a Dream" (UK Mix)||Apollo 440 and Morphine||2:50|
|16.||"Suffocating"||Gravity Kills feat. Moby and The Crystal Method||6:40|
|Australian Albums (ARIA)||15|
|Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)||33|
|French Albums (SNEP)||43|
|German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)||38|
|New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)||1|
|Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)||73|
|Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)||15|
|US Billboard 200||7|
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