SYDNEY, Australia — Fans of the skintight purple suit rejoice: the Phantom is back.
An Australian production company on Monday announced it had secured the rights to "The Phantom Legacy," a follow-up to the 1996 film "The Phantom," which starred Billy Zane as the masked hero who fights evil from his jungle headquarters.
The latest adaptation, which is expected to cost 130 million Australian dollars ($87 million), is not a sequel to the earlier picture, but a fresh look at the origins of the Phantom set in the present, scriptwriter Tim Boyle told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday.
The Phantom began as a daily newspaper comic strip by Lee Falk in 1936. The protagonist _ alter ego Kit Walker _ is the 21st in a family of men who have passed the task of fighting injustice onto their sons. The first Phantom took the job to avenge his father's death at the hands of pirates.
"One of the things that I always questioned about the Phantom is why the Phantom legacy keeps passing down from generation to generation," Boyle said in a telephone interview from New York. "To me, what would be interesting is seeing the son that didn't want to be the Phantom."
"That to me is a far more interesting story," Boyle said. "So that's kind of where I focused the plot around with the father and son sort of thing _ where the father is the Phantom, but the son doesn't want to be the Phantom, and the question is ... will he step up and be the man he's destined to be? Or will he go down a different path?"
Producer Bruce Sherlock, who also served as executive producer of the first Phantom movie, said the new film will be a marked improvement over its predecessor, which received mixed reviews.
"It has the makings of a blockbuster," Sherlock told The AP. "There's some surprises that will thrill the Phantom fans worldwide." Sherlock's Sydney-based Sherlock Symington Productions won the rights to the film.
The movie will likely be shot entirely in Australia, with production set to begin within six to nine months, Sherlock said. Producers are in talks with several "top talent" Australian and American actors, Sherlock said. He declined to provide names.