Dark Horse Founder On Comic Films, Marvel's Influence & Superhero Fatigue

With the TV adaptation of their limited series "Dark Matter" making its debut on Syfy this Friday, Dark Horse Comics founder Mike Richardson gave an interview to TheWrap as part of their "Office With a View" series. During the in-depth question and answer piece, Richardson discussed the origins of Dark Horse Entertainment -- which has been responsible for previous adaptations like "Hellboy," "Sin City," "Timecop" and "Mystery Men" -- as well as how the company differentiates itself from its peers. Unlike Marvel Studios and Warner Bros.' slate of DC films, Dark Horse Entertainment offers comic book adaptations that are not based on superheroes.

"[W]e have a wide variety of projects that cover different genres," said Richardson. "Very few of them are actually superhero books." The company's next major film, in collaboration with Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow, will be 2016's live-action "Tarzan" film, starring Alexander Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz, Djimon Hounsou and John Hurt.

Marvel's success has had an impact on Dark Horse Entertainment's operation, though. "I think that it's made us more aware of some of the types of things that are being made into films, but I don't think it's changed our overall strategy," explained Richardson. "We never really tried to fit inside the entertainment side of our company. We've done something like 30 films and television projects since our first one in 1992, 'Dr. Giggles,' and we've never really tried to fit inside that Marvel box, these superhero-style movies. We think we're much better off having a broader spectrum of content and pitching a variety of content. Although we're not against doing those types of films."

When asked if potential film or TV adaptations influence the kinds of books they publish, and Richardson offered two points of view. "The first is, our bottom line is we're looking for good comics," said Richardson. "And we do enough, see enough pitches and create enough new material that some of the projects we do that are great comics lend themselves very easily to translation into film. At the same time, through the entertainment office, you know [SVP of production Keith Goldberg] hears and they come up with ideas that might make great comics and also great films. It's always about the idea and who the characters are. And we do have to say we're doing it more now than we've done it in the past, but we have several series that started as ideas that were then translated into comics and then into television. One of the recent things that went that route is a project called 'Dark Matter,' which we're doing on Syfy Channel. Joe Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, that was an idea they talked to Keith about as far as bringing it as a comic first, and, of course, we have a graphic novel out on the market now."

Considering the boom of superhero films currently on the big screen and in-development, Richardson noted that Dark Horse most likely won't get into that genre unless they have something that can withstand the potential superhero genre fatigue. "Well, it would take us two to three years to get a [superhero] film up and distributed. And we run the risk of that superhero fatigue having hit," said Richardson. "So if we do go in there, it's got to be something very original with great filmmakers so that it can attract attention and not be ignored because people are tired of that particular boom that we're experiencing right now."

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