Marvel Studios has delayed “Blade” and shut down pre-production on the project due to the writer’s strike.
Filming on the vampire reboot was set to begin in June down in Atlanta.
A week before the current WGA contract expired, “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto was set to rewrite “Blade” script. The Marvel Studios film is the first Hollywood tentpole IP to be affected by the strike. The cast and crew were being notified on Friday.
According to an insider with knowledge of the project, Marvel simply ran out of time. When pre-production eventually resumes after the strike is resolved, two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali will star in the feature, following in the footsteps of Wesley Snipes, who portrayed the half-human vampire hunter in the original “Blade” trilogy. That hit comic book series kicked off in 1998 with “Blade,” followed by “Blade II” in 2002 and “Blade: Trinity” in 2004.
The upcoming vampire-killing actioner has enlisted Yann Demange, a French-Algerian filmmaker known for his work on films such as “71” starring Jack O’Connell and “White Boy Rick” featuring Matthew McConaughey, to direct.
The original “Blade” films departed from the comics by making Blade half-vampire (he’s just a normal human who happens to be immune to vampirism in the comics), a depiction that has stuck with popular culture and is assumed will be kept for the reboot.
Made for a relatively modest $45 million, 1998’s “Blade” was a surprise hit, bringing in $131 million domestically. The sequel directed by Guillermo del Toro was even more successful, making $155 million off a $54 million budget. Together, the films are credited with helping to revive superhero films in the wake of 1997’s “Batman and Robin,” proving that the then-latest caped crusader flick’s poor reception didn’t mean the genre was dead. Arguably, “Blade” paved the way for the “Dark Knight” trilogy and eventually the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan, Blade first appeared as a supporting character in 1973 and starred in his own title shortly thereafter.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.