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Shazam! is a 2019 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Produced by New Line Cinema and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, it is the seventh installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Directed by David F. Sandberg from a screenplay by Henry Gayden, and a story by Gayden and Darren Lemke, the film stars Asher Angel as Billy Batson, a teenage boy who can transform into an adult superhero, played by Zachary Levi. Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Djimon Hounsou also star.

Development of a live-action Shazam! film began at New Line in the early 2000s, but was delayed for many years. The film went into pre-production in 2009 with director Peter Segal and writer John August, and Dwayne Johnson considered to star as the villain Black Adam, but the project fell through; Johnson acts as an executive producer on Shazam!. William Goldman, Alec Sokolow, Joel Cohen, Bill Birch, and Geoff Johns, among others, were all attached to the project as writers at various points. The film was officially announced in 2014, with Johnson attached to star as either Shazam or Black Adam.[6] He would later be cast in January 2017 to lead a solo Black Adam development project.[7] Sandberg signed on to direct Shazam! in February 2017 and Levi was cast that October, with Angel joining the following month. Principal photography began in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on January 29, 2018, with most of the film shot at Pinewood Toronto Studios, and wrapped on May 11, 2018.

Shazam! was released in the United States by Warner Bros. Pictures in RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema, and IMAX 3D on April 5, 2019.

Plot

In 1974 Upstate New York, young Thaddeus Sivana is arguing with his father and brother during a car trip when he is transported to the Rock of Eternity, a magical temple hidden in another dimension. He meets the ancient wizard Shazam, the last of the Council of Seven Wizards, who has spent centuries searching for a new champion who is "pure of heart" after the previous champion went mad, releasing the Seven Deadly Sins upon the world. Thaddeus is tempted by the Sins, entrapped in statues, and is deemed unworthy and banished back to Earth. Upon returning, he makes a scene trying to go back which causes the car to swerve and crash; his father ends up crippled and his older brother blames the incident on him.

In present-day Philadelphia, foster kid Billy Batson runs afoul of the law while searching for his birth mother and is placed in a group home run by Victor and Rosa Vazquez with five other foster kids; Mary Bromfield, Pedro Peña, Eugene Choi, Darla Dudley and Freddy Freeman, Billy's roommate and superhero enthusiast. Meanwhile, an adult Sivana, embittered by his rejection as a boy, discovers a way to return to the Rock of Eternity. There, he steals the Eye of Sin, becoming the Sins’ vessel and besting the Wizard before returning to Earth to kill his father and brother.

At school, Billy saves Freddy from bullies and is chased into a subway, where Shazam magically summons Billy, chosen as the new champion. By calling Shazam's name, Billy is transformed into an adult superhero now endowed with the wizard's name; thanking Billy, Shazam the Wizard turns to dust, leaving behind his staff. Returning home, Freddy helps Billy explore the extent of his newfound powers: electricity manipulation, invulnerability, super strength, hyper speed, higher intelligence and flight. Freddy's videos of Shazam testing his powers become a viral sensation, and Billy begins skipping school to use his powers for money and fame in Shazam form. Seeing Champion Shazam save a bus on the news, Sivana easily defeats him and demands he surrender his powers, but he transforms back into Billy to escape into a crowd. From the news, Sivana deduces Billy's identity and abducts Freddy to find Billy.

At the Vazquez home, the other children also deduce Billy's secret and tell him they have found his mother, who lives nearby. Billy meets his mother, learning she abandoned him when she was a single teenage mom. Sivana calls Billy, having taken his foster siblings hostage, and Billy as Shazam agrees to give Sivana his powers to spare his family's lives. Sivana and Shazam travel to the Rock of Eternity, where Sivana takes the wizard's staff, but the siblings follow and attack Sivana. Shazam uses the distraction to stun Sivana and realizes that Sivana loses his powers when all Seven Sins leave his body.

Sivana pursues Shazam and his siblings to a winter carnival, unleashing the Sins upon the crowd. As Wrath battles Shazam, the other sins capture his family, demanding his powers. However, when Sivana recalls the sins, Shazam uses the opportunity to take the staff and stuns Sivana. Remembering the Wizard's words, Billy uses the staff to share his powers, transforming his siblings into adult superheroes like him.[N 1] Shazam breaks the staff and battles Sivana, whilst his siblings distract the Sins. Shazam baits Envy out of Sivana's body, leaving Sivana powerless, and takes back the Eye of Sin which recaptures all Seven Sins. Billy and his family are hailed as heroes, and Billy embraces his foster family as his true family. Returning The Eye and the Sins to their prison, Billy and siblings realize the now vacant Rock of Eternity can be their new lair. Later, Billy arrives at school in his Shazam form to have lunch with his siblings, revealing he has invited Superman, much to Freddy's joy.

In a mid credits scene, the imprisoned Sivana is approached by Mister Mind with a proposal claiming he can give Sivana his powers back. In a post-credits scene, Freddy tests whether Shazam’s champion form has fish telepathy like Aquaman, which Billy dismisses as stupid.

Cast

  • Asher Angel as Billy Batson[7]
    • Zachary Levi as the Shazam Avatar[4]
  • Djimon Hounsou as Shazam the Wizard[8]
  • Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana[9][10]
  • Jack Dylan Grazer as Freddy Freeman[11][12]
    • Adam Brody as the Freddy Freeman Avatar[13]
  • Grace Fulton as Mary Bromfield[14][6]
    • Michelle Borth as the Mary Bromfield Avatar
  • Ian Chen as Eugene Choi[12]
    • Ross Butler as the Eugene Choi Avatar[15]
  • Jovan Armand as Pedro Peña[12]
    • D. J. Cotrona as the Pedro Peña Avatar[13]
  • Faithe Herman as Darla Dudley[16][6]
    • Meagan Good as the Darla Dudley Avatar
  • Cooper Andrews as Victor Vasquez[17]
  • Marta Milans as Rosa Vasquez[18][6]
  • Lotta Losten as Dr. Lynn Crosby[19][20]
  • Andi Osho as E. B. Glover[21]
  • Carson MacCormac as Brett Breyer
  • Evan Marsh as Burke Breyer
  • Caroline Palmer as Marilyn Batson
  • David F. Sandberg as Mister Mind (voice)[22]
  • Ryan Handley as Superman

Production

Development

began development of a Shazam! live-action feature film in the early 2000s, with multiple screenplay drafts by William Goldman, the team of Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen, and , Bryan Goluboff, and John August. The version of the Shazam! script written by August, which went into pre-production in 2008, was an action-comedy which focused on the origin story of the hero, then known by his original name of Captain Marvel, and his young alter ego, Billy Batson. was attached as director and actor was in talks to appear as the film's villain, . The Shazam! film was being produced by New Line Cinema, which was absorbed into during the course of development.

Following the success of Warner's film and the commercial failure of its lighter, family-friendly during the summer of 2008, August departed from the project citing pressure from the studio to make the screenplay darker and more serious. In August 2009, Bill Birch and Geoff Johns, a prominent DC Comics writer, were assigned to write the screenplay, while Segal remained attached as director. In August 2010, the studio considered canceling the theatrical movie in favor of a live-action series for prime time network television. In December 2013, Segal stated that the film would not be happening, as the similarities between Captain Marvel and had become an obstacle after the successful launch of .

While development on the Shazam! film was in limbo, DC Comics rebooted the comic book franchise as part of their relaunch in 2012. Due to ongoing trademark conflicts with , who owned the trademark for "Captain Marvel" for use with , DC renamed their Captain Marvel superhero character "Shazam" at this time. DC had always been required to market and promote the character using the trademark Shazam! since acquiring the publishing rights from in 1972. Captain Marvel had originated at Fawcett in 1939, but fell into limbo after 1953 following a long legal battle with DC over Captain Marvel's similarities to Superman.

In April 2014, Warner Bros. revealed the upcoming slate of films based on DC Comics properties. A film was set to be released in 2017, alongside upcoming adaptations of Shazam!, , and . The Shazam! film was tentatively set for release in July 2016. Dwayne Johnson confirmed he would be starring in Shazam! that August, but was undecided between portraying Shazam or Black Adam. In September, Johnson was confirmed to play Black Adam, while was set to write the script. In January 2017, Henry Gayden was hired to rewrite Lemke's script. In February 2017, was in talks with the studio to direct Shazam!, Dwayne Johnson was set to first star in a Black Adam solo film, as opposed to appearing as the villain in Shazam!, while , another archnemesis of Shazam, became the Shazam! film's main villain.

By July 2017, the studio had begun active development on Shazam! and Sandberg was confirmed as director, with production to begin in early 2018. Dwayne Johnson relayed that a different creative team was now involved than when he first signed on to the film, and stated his excitement over the studio's decision to split the film into two separate movies. After being cast as the lead, Zachary Levi stated in an interview, "the idea is that it's gonna feel like the movie , but with " when he was asked about what direction and New Line Cinema are going for with Shazam! The film was later stated by Warner Bros. to be based on the 2012-2013 Shazam! backup feature from the comic book by writer Geoff Johns and artist , which told a modernized version of Shazam's origin.

Pre-production

In August 2017, director David F. Sandberg stated that the film would be the next to shoot in the DC universe, and by the end of the month, it had begun . By October 2017, cinematographer and production designer Jennifer Spence, who previously worked with Sandberg on , were added to the production. The next month, stunt coordinator Kyle Gardiner was hired to work on the film's action sequences. On January 12, 2018, the film's release date was officially announced.

Casting

By September 2014, Dwayne Johnson was set to portray Black Adam in the film, but by July 2017, he had left the project to pursue a Black Adam solo film. In August 2017, the casting process for Shazam and other characters for the film had begun. Sandberg had stated in an interview that instead of de-aging an actor using special effects or CGI, he would cast both a child actor and an adult actor for the role of the main character. , , , , and had all met with and/or auditioned for Sandberg for the role of Shazam.

By October 2017, Levi was cast in the titular role. In November, joined the cast as , one of Billy Batson's foster siblings. Fulton had previously worked with the same director in . Later that month, was in final negotiations to play Dr. Sivana. Strong confirmed he would be playing the role by January 2018. By November 2017, was cast as the titular hero's child-age alter ego . In December, was cast as , Batson's best friend. Later that month, Jovan Armand, , Faithe Herman, and were cast as , , and , while Andrews portrayed Victor Vazquez, Batson's foster parent.

By January 2018, entered talks to play the role of the wizard , who granted Batson his powers. Later that month, Spanish actress Marta Milans joined the cast to play one of the foster parents at the home where Billy lives. By the end of January 2018, actress , wife of director David F. Sandberg, revealed that she had a role in the film. On April 23, 2018, was announced to have joined the cast. In July, it was announced that had replaced Jones as the wizard Shazam, due to Jones having scheduling conflicts. was in talks to reprise his role as from previous DCEU films for a , but was unable to because of scheduling conflicts.

Filming

Principal photography for Shazam! began in and , in Ontario, Canada on January 29, 2018, under the Franklin, and was scheduled to wrap by mid-May 2018. The film was set primarily in , and firmly established within the DCEU. Most of the production was shot at and also several public locations around the city, including the , and . In early March 2018, filming took place at in downtown Toronto. By early May 2018, Asher Angel, among other young cast members, had finished filming his part. Principal photography wrapped on May 11, 2018. Additional photography took place in Toronto between November and December 2018. Shazam! had a filming budget of only $80–90 million (and about $100 million once post-production was complete), making it the cheapest DCEU film to-date. Footage of the and , as well as other location work, were filmed in the city of in December 2018.

Post-production

David F. Sandberg's two-time collaborator Michel Aller served as the editor for Shazam!. Mike Wassel ( and franchise) and Kelvin McIlwain () were the overall visual effects supervisors for the film. 's VFX studios Mr. X (known for and ) and (MPC) provided . , , and also worked on the VFX.

Music

On July 21, 2018, Benjamin Wallfisch was announced as the composer for Shazam!, marking the third collaboration with director David F. Sandberg after previously scoring Sandberg's Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation.[89] Wallfisch previously provided additional music for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the second film in the DC Extended Universe.

Release

On March 13, 2019, Warner Bros. Pictures announced that they were teaming up with Fandango for exclusive preview screenings on March 23, two weeks before release on 1,200 select screens and 40 exhibition circuits.[99]

Shazam! premiered in Toronto on March 15, 2019,[100] and was released in the United States by Warner Bros. Pictures in RealD 3D, Dolby Cinema and IMAX 3D on April 5, 2019.

Marketing

In April 2018, a first look at Shazam! was shown at the CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas, Nevada and the director David F. Sandberg introduced the behind-the-scene footage.[91][92] During an interview with Film Riot Podcast in June 2018, Sandberg stated that "On this one, it was just like 'Yeah, I want this to be a classic superhero movie.' It takes place in the winter, so it's a lot of dark exteriors, but with a lot of colorful lights and stuff around them."[93] On July 21, 2018, the first teaser trailer was shown at San Diego Comic-Con during the Warner Bros. panel at Hall H, with Sandberg, Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, and Jack Dylan Grazer in attendance. The trailer was later released online.[94] It received a favorable response from journalists and audiences, who praised its humorous, zany tone.[95]

New footage from the film made its debut at Brazil Comic Con (CCXP) in São Paulo on December 9, 2018 during the Warner Bros. studio panel, with the footage described for the attendees as action packed.[96] A new trailer was released on March 4, and a three-minute sneak peek was included with the digital home media of Aquaman.

At the STP 500 on March 24, 2019, Shazam! was the primary sponsor of Aric Almirola and the #10 Ford Mustang in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Almirola would go on to finish 9th after starting 2nd.

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