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From Zack Snyder to James Gunn, there's a long history of horror movie directors stepping up the plate to take on tentpole franchises. That tradition will continue in February when Annabelle: Creation and Lights Out director David F. Sandberg finally starts shooting the long-awaited Shazam solo film. He had been rumored for the project for a long time, and now it seems that it took him quite a while to learn that he actually got the job from DC. As Sandberg explained:
The way David F. Sandberg got the Shazam job makes a lot of sense when we look at the trajectory of the film's development. Rumors about his involvement in the film circulated online for a good chunk of 2017, and it wasn't until this summer that we finally received definitive confirmation on the matter. That seems to reflect Sandberg's knowledge of his involvement, as New Line's positive reception to Annabelle gradually led him to meet with DC's Geoff Johns and get the ball rolling, even though the project didn't become a reality for him until the information went public.
Aside from David F. Sandberg's recent comments to Film Riot, everything that we currently know about the development of Shazam (which is admittedly not that much) seems to suggest that it's perfect for a man of his talents. The two feature films that he has to his name are horror movies, but they're horror movies grounded by phenomenal performances by child actors. Sandberg seems to have a knack for getting good work out of young performers (which isn't necessarily an easy task), so it seems like a solid indication that he will be able to place just as much emphasis on Billy Batson as he will on Shazam himself when the upcoming solo film debuts. Now it's just a matter of who he will enlist to take on both of those roles.
Beyond that, David F. Sandberg's background in the horror genre seems to bode well for his graduation to larger tentpole blockbusters. Although (by Sandberg's admission) the genre doesn't receive as much acclaim from awards institutions as other genres, horror represents a significant proving ground for a director looking to work on a bigger production. Horror movies teach a filmmaker how to sustain tension, collaborate with a smaller budget and convey absurd premises in believable terms. Those are all proficiencies that will help Sandberg as he moves into the superhero genre, so our hope remains high that this (relatively) rookie filmmaker can do great things with this new live-action property.
Shazam will begin production in February, and the story of Billy Batson's transformation into one of DC's most powerful heroes is expected to hit the big screen sometime in 2019. For now, you can catch David F. Sandberg's latest work in Annabelle: Creation, which is currently in theaters.