Team Captain: August writing NL's 'Shazam!'


John August has been hired to pen "Shazam!" New Line Cinema's adaptation of a DC Comics series featuring Captain Marvel. Peter Segal is attached to direct and also is producing with Michael Ewing.

The comic book series focuses on Billy Batson, a teenager who becomes the superhero known as Captain Marvel when he utters the magic word "Shazam!" The name is an acronym for six gods and heroes of the ancient world as well as their attributes: the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Aries, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury.

Writers on the long-gestating project include William Goldman and Bryan Goluboff.

Segal approached August because of the scribe's track record of combining big spectacle with characterization in such movies as "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Big Fish." August, who recently started reading the trade paperbacks that compiled the "Shazam!" series, was intrigued.

"It's a unique opportunity to do a comic book movie where the character in it actually read comic books," said August, who has started writing the script. "What's terrific about the character is that he looks like this superstudly superhero but is really a 13-year-old boy. And to approach everything that is great about a superhero movie from a 13-year-old boy's perspective was a unique way in."

August sat down with noted DC Comics writer Geoff Johns for "idiot checking," making sure the filmmakers' approach to the character was consistent with what fans love about him. "I think we're going to be able to be really faithful to the mythology and yet make it completely transparent for people who have no idea who the character is," August said.

Chris Godsick and Michael Uslan ("Constantine") are executive producing.

Gregory Noveck is overseeing for DC Comics. Mark Kaufman and Daryl Freimark are overseeing for New Line.

August, who wrote and directed the Sundance Film Festival favorite "The Nines," is repped by UTA and attorney Ken Richman.