IT HAS been described as The Fast and the Furious – without cars. The latest comic book by the Scottish writer Mark Millar has been bought by the Hollywood producer behind the Transformers movies.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura, whose previous films include G.I. Joe, Red which starred Bruce Willis, and the four Transformers movies, has optioned the film rights to MPH, in which four teenagers in Detroit discover a new street drug that allows them to move at the speed of light for seven days.
The sale is the latest success for MillarWorld, the publisher that Mark Millar set up in 2004 in order to own the rights to his own comic book characters, after years writing popular characters such as Superman for DC Comics and The X Men for Marvel Comics.
Mr Millar said: “Lorenzo’s one of the few real moguls in the industry, having hired Chris Nolan for Batman and bought the rights to the Harry Potter books when he was head of Warner Bros. and then of course he’s the guy behind the Transformers movies.
“So he’s a guy who really knows how to make huge pictures and he’s somebody I’ve always wanted to work with.”
The comic book, which is published on 21 May, will now be developed by Mr di Bonaventura into a suitable screenplay before the producer seeks a studio to finance production.
Wall Street analysts reported that six of the ten biggest comic book movies were adaptations of titles published not by Marvel or DC but smaller independent publishers such as Dark Horse who released The Mask, a huge hit starring Jim Carey, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It also revealed that while the average independent movie makes a loss, films based on Mr Millar’s comics made a 9 per cent return on investment.
In recent years four movies based on his comics have been released: Wanted starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman; Kick Ass starring Nicholas Cage and the sequel, Kick Ass 2; and most recently Secret Service starring Colin Firth and Mark Hamill, to be released in November. Mr Millar, 44, who was born in Coatbridge and lives in Glasgow, is also a consultant on comic book film adaptations with 20th-Century Fox, the studio behind X-Men: Days of Future Past.
John McShane, a Scottish authority on comic books who has known Millar for more than 20 years, said his success is down to hard work and study. He said: “Mark has studied under the best. Will Eisner solved a plot problem for him in Wolverine; Stan Lee convinced him to write his own characters.
“Like Stan, Mark can turn a phrase into an exciting story: ‘Why do we commit crimes in America where we are bound to get stopped by a superhero – let’s commit a crime in Spain’ – a high concept in Holywood. He was also an aspiring artist and so thinks of his stories visually from the start. Nor does his friendship with the likes of Jonathan Ross, his screenwriting wife, and their friend Matthew Bourne do any harm. Networking? Easy.
“Mark knows what makes an exciting story which can be told visually in a two-hour film. How could he not be a success in Holywood?”