SP Media Group (SPMG) has entered into an agreement to acquire a majority interest in the Atlas Comics library, through its owner Nemesis Group Inc. and its principal, Jason Goodman, grandson of Marvel Comics founder Martin Goodman, who launched the imprint.
Headed by Steven Paul (Ghost in the Shell), SPMG has signed a co-production and co-financing first look deal with Paramount Pictures to develop, produce and distribute superhero films based on the comic books. The company has also signed a deal with Akiva Goldsman (I Am Legend) and his Weed Road Pictures to oversee a writers’ room in connection with developing out the universe of the characters from the Atlas comic book library.
Atlas (frequently referred to by collectors as Atlas-Seaboard to differentiate it from the 1950s Atlas incarnation of Marvel), published color comics and black and white comic magazines featuring properties such as Ironjaw, Wulf The Barbarian, The Destructor, The Scorpion, Grim Ghost, Phoenix, Planet of Vampires, Savage Combat Tales, and Tales of Evil, among others.
Despite a short history, publishing only from December 1974 through October 1975, Atlas employed such talent as Archie Goodwin, Steve Ditko, Russ Heath, John Severin, Alex Toth, Wally Wood, Walter Simonson, Howard Chaykin, Larry Hama, and Rich Buckler, among others, alongside editors Jeff Rovin and Larry Lieber.
Martin Goodman had launched Timely Publications in 1939. The company, which would eventually become Marvel Comics, was branded Atlas Comics in the 1950s before evolving into the entity fans know today. When he sold Marvel in the 1970s, it was with the understanding that his son, Charles “Chip” Goodman, would stay on at Marvel. When that didn’t happen according to plan, Martin and Chip formed the new Atlas. Upon Martin’s death, Atlas became frozen in his estate and remained untouched until 2010 when Martin’s grandson, Jason Goodman, took possession.
The company’s output covered a wide variety of genres from standard superheroes to westerns, barbarians, war stories, teen hijinks, and science fiction. The broad range of the material should offer Paramount and SPMG a pool of springboards for new media properties.
“What an opportunity that we have with the Atlas universe, which spans so many genres: superheroes, sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, horror, creatures, vampires, cops, cowboys, soldiers... The breadth of this material is extraordinary. I am looking forward to this adventure with Atlas for many years to come,” Paul said in the release.
“Intellectual property of this kind is hard to come by in this day and age, and we are excited to be working with Steven Paul and SP Media Group to bring the iconic Atlas comic book library to the big screen,” Paramount Pictures COO Andrew Gumpert said.
According to Jason Goodman, however, they aren’t just focusing on one particular character or series at this point.
“We don’t want to presuppose what it will be,” Goodman told Scoop. Instead, Oscar-winner Goldsman will supervise a group of screenwriters who will develop a continuity of stories and characters based on the comics. The best property to emerge from that crucible will be their first focus.
It doesn’t sound like they intend for that exercise to be an overly lengthy process, though.
“Production on the first project is anticipated to commence during the second quarter of 2020 with a release expected to take place in 2021. The companies intend to produce and release at least one superhero project each year thereafter,” they said in the release.
The films will be produced by Paul, Akiva Goldsman, and Atlas’s President of Production, Spike Seldin (The A-Team). Development for Atlas will be supervised by Seldin, and Greg Lessans will supervise for Weed Road.
In addition to serving as Executive Producer on all Atlas film and TV projects, Goodman will maintain an interest in the new Atlas company and will head up publishing. Scott Karol, SPMG’s President, will also serve as executive producer.
“Steven Paul, Akiva Goldsman and the whole team at the singularly iconic Paramount Pictures bring a level of talent and enthusiasm to this venture that carries my family’s body of work in the comic book industry into filmed entertainment,” Goodman said.