Few people saw The Phantom back in 1996 and now 12 years later even fewer remember it. Think Billy Zane in purple spandex and maybe it’ll jog your memory. The movie was a big enough flop though, that even in the current climate of rampant superhero repurposing no one has bothered to mention it as having anything resembling a franchise future. Until now that is, when an unnamed Australian company has snatched up the rights to it and plans to pour $87 million down the throat of a Phantom sequel.
The story from the Associated Press seemed so unlikely that I had to read it three times before I’d believe it. The Phantom? Really? Couldn’t we give the Punisher a fourth try or something? Even that would make more sense. But the AP isn’t in the habit of kidding and it isn’t April 1st, so this must be the real deal.
For those blissfully unfamiliar with The Phantom, he’s a purple suited hero who fights crime from his jungle headquarters. Actually… that’s one aspect to this character that’s sort of interesting. Most of the superhero movies we’ve been deluged with recently have all been set in cities. Why not a superhero movie about a guy fighting monkeys and pirates in the Amazon? At least that’s a change of pace.
Though they’re calling this a sequel to The Phantom, it doesn’t sound like it will be a direct sequel. For instance, unlike the 1996 movie this won’t be a period piece. They’re setting it in the modern day. There’s also no mention of digging up Billy Zane. Instead producer Bruce Sherlock, who also produced the 1996 movie, says they’re looking for “top talent”. With $87 million to spend on it, they may get just that. Unless it’s 1995 all over again, that definitely precludes the return of Zane.
This new movie, which they’re calling The Phantom Legacy, will focus on a father/son relationship and according to screenwriter Tim Boyle, it’ll also deal a lot with the concept of destiny. Pretty vague.
Interestingly at one point, back in 2002, Hyde Park Entertainment was also supposed to be working on a Phantom sequel called The Ghost Who Walks. This doesn’t seem to be the same movie, though it’s certain to impact any plans Hyde Park might have, should such plans still exist. Somehow I doubt it. One Phantom movie is unlikely enough.