If you thought Walt Disney Pictures had plenty on its slate with Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the forthcoming Star Wars sequel trilogy, then think again. Having forked out a combined $8 billion to acquire Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm Ltd over the past couple of years, Disney is now now looking to capitalise on its investment by bringing the two companies together for a live-action reboot of the cult 80s comic book adaptation Howard the Duck.
“With development now firmly underway on Star Wars: Episode VII, we feel the time is right to explore further opportunities within the Lucasfilm portfolio,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger during the studio’s annual Investor Easter Egg Hunt as Disneyland yesterday. “Howard the Duck is a beloved character with a rich history in Marvel’s comic book world, so it makes perfect sense that he takes center stage in our first co-production between Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios.”
Created by Steve Gerber and Val Mayerik, Howard the Duck made his first appearance in Adventure into Fear #19 in 1973 and by 1976 he was heading up his own series. This brought him to the attention of George Lucas, who originally planned to develop an animated adaptation before finally settling on a live-action version in 1986. Panned by fans and critics alike, the resulting film was a notorious box office flop, although it has since went on to earn a special place in the annals of cult cinema.
“Howard the Duck was the first Marvel adaptation to reach the big screen and now he’s set to become an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” said Marvel Studios’ president of production Kevin Feige. “While our focus for Phase Two is mainly to build upon The Avengers with Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Phase Three will see us exploring new avenues and directions as we look to enrich that universe. We are confident that Howard the Duck will make a fine addition to our Phase Three line-up alongside the likes of Ant-Man and Doctor Strange.”
Although there has been no official word on a release date for the Howard the Duck reboot, it’s thought that the new movie will arrive in 2016, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the original.