In news that's likely to surprise even the most devoted fans of the Sorcerer Supreme, Deadline reports that Marvel has hired Conan screenwriters Thomas Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer to pen Doctor Strange, a property whose film history dates back almost 25 years.
Deadline's Mike Fleming notes that the "long-gestating" project could be among the first Marvel films developed under the Disney banner.
Marvel's Master of the Mystic Arts appeared in a 1978 made-for-TV movie, but seemed headed for the big screen in 1986 in a script by Back to the Future co-writer Bob Gale. Although that version never went into production, six years later Wes Craven signed on to write and direct an adaptation that failed to materialize when distributor Savoy Pictures went bankrupt. Since then Doctor Strange has passed from director to director and studio to studio. Guillermo del Toro was attached to direct for Paramount Pictures as recently as 2008, with Neil Gaiman reportedly approached to write the script. Since then Marvel has reclaimed the rights.
Presumably Doctor Strange is the beneficiary of Marvel's rumored new approach to small-scale movies featuring third-tier characters and a budget of somewhere between $20 million and $40 million.