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'The Darkness' looks to move into the film light

July 19, 2011 |  2:57 pm

EXCLUSIVE: The upcoming San Diego Comic-con usually yields its fair share of announcements and deals about properties being developed as entertainment vehicles. One of the more noteworthy nuggets going into this year's confab? New life for a movie based on the popular comic book property "The Darkness."

24 Frames has learned that Mandeville Films, the Walt Disney-affiliated producers behind last year's Oscar contender "The Fighter," has pacted with "Darkness" publisher Top Cow to develop a film based on the dark genre piece. A spokeswoman for Mandeville confirmed the deal.

The graphic novels center on a mobster named Jackie Estacado who discovers he has inherited a murderous power known as "the darkness" that allows him to summon creatures from another realm. Estacado must then find a way to tame the power while vanquishing his enemies within the crime family in which he operates.

Co-created by Top Cow founder Marc Silvestri in 1996, "The Darkness” has yielded more than 115 books and sold 25 million copies around the world, according to the company. It's also spawned a popular video game, with a sequel set to come out next year.

The deal marks the latest collaboration between the publisher and the producer.  The two have previously partnered to develop movies based on Top Cow's "Alibi" and "Crosshair" titles. (Mandeville's David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman will produce, while the company's David Manpearl and  Top Cow's Marc Silvestri and Matt Hawkins will executive produce.)

"The Darkness" has had several go-rounds in Hollywood. About seven years ago, genre specialists Dimension Films took a crack, and more recently "The Break-Up" producer Scott Stuber attempted to move it forward. But principals are hoping that the time is now right for a dark comic book piece, with anticipation building for Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises" next year and Ryan Reynolds preparing to shoot "R.I.P.D.," an underworld revenge story based on a popular graphic novel.

The deal comes at a time of expansion for Mandeville. The company is set to bring out  a remake of the iconic "The Muppets" in the fall as it diversifies beyond the mid-budget comedies of  "The Proposal" and "Beverly Hills Chihuahua." Among other projects, it's also working on a new comedy from the writers of "The Hangover" and contemplating a follow-up to "The Fighter" based on Micky Ward's bouts with Arturo Gatti.


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--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A screen shot from "The Darkness" video game. Credit: Top Cow

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