Exclusive Interview: Dan Forcey of Platinum Studios Part 1
Platinum Studios (Cowboys & Aliens) is at the forefront of turning comic-related material into successful feature film and television projects. I talked with Dan and got some updates on Witchblade, Unique, Dylan Dog and much more.
Platinum Studios was founded in 1997 by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg following a successful career in the comic book industry as creator and head of Malibu Comics. At Malibu Comics, Mr. Rosenberg produced popular and innovative comics lines, including the Men in Black comic book, which he later brought to Columbia/Sony Pictures to become a billion-dollar entertainment franchise.
The studio controls an international library of comic book characters from all over the world, which it adapts, produces and licenses for all forms of media including print, film, online, mobile / wireless, gaming, and merchandising. Platinum Studios' library contains more than 5,600 characters spanning a full range of genres and styles. Platinum has film and television projects established at every major Hollywood studio, including Disney, DreamWorks SKG, MGM, Miramax, New Line Cinema, Sony, and Universal.
Dan Forcey has served as Platinum Studio's Vice President of Content Development since January of 2007. Prior to that, he served as Platinum’s Communications Manager from December of 2002, coordinating their public relations efforts and managing multiple websites for the company. Prior to and during this tenure, Dan has also been a stuntman, fight choreographer, and teacher of movement and stage combat and is a world-recognized expert in fencing and swordfighting.
(Information courtesy of Platinum Studios corporate page)
As their bio states, Platinum Studios has quite a lot going on right now. I got the opportunity to talk to Dan Forcey about where some of these projects are at.
Bryan Kritz: Tell me a little about yourself and how you got from stunt person to VP at Platinum Studios?
Dan Forcey: Scott Rosenberg and I got introduced by a friend I went to college with back when I was still doing stunts. We hit it off and I ended up helping him out on a few projects in various capacities. I designed some websites for him, I ran a "Save Jeremiah" write-in campaign (Jeremiah was the 35 hour maxi-series Platinum had on Showtime), developed an ARG for their book "Unique", and a ton of other things. Eventually, he asked me to come on full-time and, after saying no about 12 times, he finally convinced me it would be easier on my aging body to make movies than to be in them.
BK: Are you still involved in any stunt work now?
DF: Actually, I dusted off my elbow pads and went to New Orleans last March to work on Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, Platinum's first independently financed feature. I worked with Eric Norris and even got to take over for him for a short period towards the end of the shoot. Was fun to do it again for a bit, but I was certainly reminded why (in the immortal words of Roger Murtaugh) I'm getting too old for this @#$%.
BK: Speaking of Dylan Dog, when will it be released both in the U.S. and abroad?
DF: Abroad it will be released in various territories in the fall. I believe first in Italy on October 29 of this year. We're not sure yet when it will come out in the US yet, as we haven't even begun shopping it around to distributors. We’ve been talking to several studios, but wanted to make sure we had the best product possible before showing it to anyone. Frankly, when independently financing a movie like this, the more you do on your own, the higher price you can charge the studios when getting domestic distribution. Just look at movies like KICK-ASS, which reportedly cost somewhere around $20M to make and then sold to Lionsgate for a reported $42M. It’s the formula a lot of independent movies are going these days.
Dylan Dog is a penniless nightmare/paranormal investigator who deals with all sorts of things that go bump in the night, which includes vampires, werewolves and zombies. The original comic was first published in Italy where it still has a very large following.
BK: That comic has a huge following in Italy and some story changes have taken place. The two most notable are a location change from London to New Orleans and his sidekick has changed from Groucho (an actor "stuck" in character) to Marcus Adams. How are those changes being received by Italy and the Dylan comic fans in general
DF: Honestly, there has been a lot of unhappy fans, and I totally understand that. First and foremost, I’m a big geek and I’ve loved comics since I was a kid. If someone took my beloved Legion of Superheroes and set it in the present, I would be upset, too. I understand how people who have grown up with Dylan and Groucho living in London feel. That being said, there’s the practicality of the movie business. We tried for years and years to set up this movie and no studio wanted to make it, so we found a way to do it ourselves. That meant the movie would get made but also meant we had to operate under a budget. We couldn’t afford to shoot in London nor could we afford to pay the rights fee we would have had to in order to use Groucho’s likeness. We think we made great compromises in the creation of Marcus, who I think very much embodies the spirit of Dylan’s sidekick. He still throws Dylan his gun and serves as the lighter side of the dark, brooding Dylan. When capturing the spirit of London, we also thought New Orleans was the only city we could choose. It’s a dark, romantic city steeped in history much like London. We’ve also layered in tons of “easter eggs” for the fans that only true Dylan-philes will pick up on. We very much want this to be something true to the comic that fans will love and embrace the same way fans of Iron Man embraced the changes Jon Favreau made to that.
BK: Cowboys & Aliens is the big tentpole feature you are working on but Platinum has many comics in some form of production for live screen adaptations. What can we expect to see next after that? Has anything been talked about for the future with the same budget or magnitude at this point?
DF: We've got several other projects right behind this, so it definitely won't be the last time you see us. We've got Unique at Disney and just got in the latest script from Dan Wilson and Dave Gilbreth which is fantastic. We've also got Atlantis Rising with Len Wiseman attached to direct at Dreamworks with Kurtzman and Orci producing. That's one of the few projects Dreamworks brought with them from Paramount when they left, so we're confidant they intend to make it. Other than that, we've got a handfull of TV projects around town that are moving forward nicely, like Metadocs at the Syfy network. Suffice to say, for a small company like us (small in relation to Marvel and DC, that is) we're pretty darn busy.
Atlantis Rising takes a different approach than the usual "lost city under water." Instead, seismic disturbances at sea force the military to investigate the deepest realm of the ocean, and an underground civilization emerges to wage war with Earth. Unique centers around the extraordinary life of Jon Geoffries. Convinced all his life that he was schizophrenic because of strange visions of another world, Geoffries learns that he is actually seeing the Earth's twin, a parallel world in another dimension, and that he is Unique; one of few people with no doppelganger in the other world... and the power to move between them at will and lastly, Metadocs is about a secretive wing of a large urban hospital that treats injured superheroes.
BK: What involvement does Platinum have with Top Cow in the new Witchblade adaptation. Where is the movie at and have any casting decisions been made.
DF: Platinum works with our partners at Top Cow to develop all of their properties for film and TV (at least those that are not creator owned, like 'Wanted'). We’ve been working very hard with writers, producers and directors to come up with the right mix to bring alive 'Witchblade' for the big screen. I can’t say much more about it right now other than we should have some really exciting news to announce in the next few weeks about that project.
BK: Platinum has the Macroverse for their own comics to give characters the potential for crossover. Is that being discussed with any of the film projects?
DF: We’re definitely working on that. It makes it a bit easier when you’ve got multiple projects at the same studio. For example, those sort of crossovers don’t really become possible when you’ve got Unique at Disney and (even though they both come from the Macroverse) Atlantis Rising at Dreamworks. However, there are definitely possibilities when you’ve got two projects at the same studio, like AR and Cowboys & Aliens (both at Dreamworks).
Many thanks to Dan Forcey from ComicBookMovie.com for taking the time to answer some questions. Part 2 will feature the movie Cowboys & Aliens, directed by Jon Favreau and starring Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde. To view that article click here.
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