Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer are about to kick some serious box office ass — not that we’ll ever know. Deadline reports that the dream duo are nearing a deal with Netflix on superhero comedy “Thunder Force,” from “Tammy” scribe and McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone. Falcone is set to write and direct. Details are still thin, but the story will center on the two women getting superpowers and is set for a fall launch.
Both McCarthy and Spencer are coming off Oscar successes. McCarthy nabbed her first Best Actress nomination for her work in Marielle Heller’s black comedy “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” and Spencer took home the statue as a producer on “Green Book” when the period comedy won Best Picture. With such wins fresh in the minds of executives, it’s a no-brainer to pair up these two beloved talents.
An actor himself, Falcone has written and directed three McCarthy vehicles; “Tammy” (2014), “The Boss” (2016), and “Life of the Party” (2018). McCarthy’s firm grip on audiences helped usher the broad comedies to success, though with diminishing returns. “Tammy” grossed $84 million for Warner Bros., “The Boss” made $63 million for Universal, and “Life of the Party” trailed behind with $53 million again at Warners. All three were critically panned.
Netflix offers an entirely different model from the studio system, which industry insiders have been watching nervously over the last few years. The streaming giant notoriously does not share its viewing numbers and offers big budgets with less creative oversight than a traditional studio.
Spencer has been outspoken about her fight for pay equity with white actresses, brokering a groundbreaking “favored nations” deal with Jessica Chastain on a still-untitled holiday comedy. Spencer has had success with Netflix, though not without pushback. She recently revealed that executive producer LeBron James had to step in and advocate for her during salary negotiations for her forthcoming Netflix series, “Madam C.J. Walker.”
Spencer will next appear in the Blumhouse-backed psychological horror “Ma,” which reunites her with “The Help” director Tate Taylor. Universal Pictures will release “Ma” in theaters nationwide May 31.