Thankfully, it looks like Warner Brothers hasn’t been scared by the poor box office this past weekend for Disney’s John Carter as the studio has announced that it will be taking at stab at producing a feature film based on another old pulp hero that isn’t too familiar to today’s culturally illiterate audiences – Mandrake the Magician.
Created by Lee Falk, the same comic strip creator who brought us The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician has the power to hypnotize people with a mere quick gesture and uses this to fight gangsters, mad scientists and the occasional alien invasion. Mandrake travels in rather elite circles counting the strongest man in the Lothar, “Prince of the Sven Nations, ” Princess Narda of the European nation of Cockaigne and Magnon, the ruler of an intergalactic empire. The strip started in 1934 and continues to this day in a handful of newspapers.
Warner Brothers is teaming with Atlas Entertainment on the project. Atlas bought the film rights to the character back in 2009 and since then have had Twelve Monkeys scribes David Peoples and Janet Peoples working on a screenplay. Warners has indicated that they wish to proceed with a more revisionist take on the character a la their successful Sherlock Holmes films featuring Robert Downey Jr. To that end, they are looking for someone new to script.
Previously, Mandrake was featured in a radio series that ran for two years and in a 1939 Saturday morning serial. Previous attempts have been made to bring Mandrake to the screen. A 1980s attempt at Embassy Pictures died after a regime change at the studio. In 2007, director Chuck Russell was working on a version that would have starred Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Mandrake. By 2009, Russell had been replaced by Mimi Leder and Myers by Christian Hayden.