Shazam!, the story about a boy who transforms into Earth's mightiest mortal, looks to be the next DC Cinematic Universe movie, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
David F. Sandberg, the filmmaker behind upcoming Annabelle: Creation, will direct the feature that hails from Warner Bros.' sister division, New Line. The project is looking to go before cameras in January or February of next year with a likely release in 2019, according to sources.
Peter Safran, who worked with Sandberg on the Annabelle sequel and is also producing Aquaman, is in negotiations to board Shazam! as producer.
It is unclear whether Dwayne Johnson, who has long been attached to play Shazam! villain Black Adam, will be involved with the project. But he is attached as star and producer of the Black Adam spinoff being developed concurrently to Shazam!
Warners is feeling revived in its DCU with the stunning success of Wonder Woman, and earlier this week slotted two DC movies on the release calendar for 2020. It has several films queueing up on the runway, but at this stage, Shazam! will take off first. Flash was delayed by a lack of a director, while a sequel to Wonder Woman is only in the early treatment writing stage. Joss Whedon is overseeing postproduction and reshoots on Justice League and won't be ready to tackle a Batgirl film until after the former is out the door. A sequel to Suicide Squad, which is closing in on a helmer, is eyeing a mid-2018 start.
New Line is high on Sandberg, who it proudly sees as a homegrown talent. The Swede was making horror shorts in his apartment using his iPhone when one of them caught the eye of the studio, which then adapted it into the 2016 surprise hit Lights Out, which he directed. That led to the company putting him on the Annabelle sequel, which screened to a standing-room-only crowd as part of the fan-tastic festivities at San Diego Comic-Con. New Line has also been holding sold-out preview screenings around the country.
To go from iPhone filmmaker to a full-blown DC movie director in a scant three or four years is itself a Shazam!-like transformation.