‘Candyman’ Producer on Toxic Fandom Concerns and ‘High-Concept Iterations’

Monkeypaw Creative Director Ian Cooper stopped by the Produced By conference to discuss "really problematic" fandom and Jordan Peele's passion for the project.
Editorial use only. No book cover usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Polygram/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5878137f)Tony ToddCandyman - 1992Director: Bernard RosePolygramUSAScene Still

Jordan Peele is producing what he calls a “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 horror classic “Candyman” through his Monkeypaw Productions. Starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nia DaCosta (“Little Woods”) is set to direct. Details on plot have been kept mostly under wraps. But during a panel on Saturday’s Produced By Conference titled “The New Age of Producing Horror,” Monkeypaw Creative Director Ian Cooper dropped a few notes on the project, notably concerns they have on balancing expectations of diehard fans of the original while offering a fresh take.

“What we’re doing with Candyman and how Jordan is crafting it on the page is going to be very exciting and rewarding to audiences that haven’t seen the original film as well as people who’ve seen the original film,” Cooper said. “In a broad sense of the word, this film will stand alone if you’ve never heard of a film called Candyman and will dovetail in a pretty complicated and interesting way to the original.”

Cooper was especially anxious about the unhealthy possessiveness and entitlement that are trademarks of what has come to be known as “toxic fandom,”  a fan culture that typically develops in internet echo chambers. “We talk a lot about fans and the idea of appeasing fans and when you do that, and how do you do that, and when do you not do that,” Cooper said. “I think my issue with fandom is that it’s really problematic. It’s probably the most problematic thing facing the genre.”

Cooper didn’t detail how exactly he and Peele will navigate this problem with regards to their “Candyman” film, except to say their version will be “mischievous in how we address the relationship to the first film, but also be very satisfying.”

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage.Mandatory Credit: Photo by Propaganda/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock (5875377e)Tony ToddCandyman 2 - Farewell To The Flesh - 1995Director: Bill CondonPropaganda FilmsUSAScene StillHorror
Tony Todd in “Candyman 2 – Farewell To The Flesh” (1995)Propagand/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Additionally, Cooper revealed that this is a project that Peele has been wanting to make for “many years,” and that has gone through several high-concept iterations in that time period. Again, he was mum on specifics.

Most recently, the star of the original film franchise, Tony Todd, said he’d been approached by the producers to appear in the new “Candyman,” but Cooper would not confirm or deny. “Tony Todd is just no comment, full stop,” he said.

And while it is official that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is starring in the film, his role remains a mystery, despite rumors that he will indeed replace Todd in the part. Director DaCosta set the record straight that in March 25, 2019, when she said: “Well, it’s been slightly misreported. I can’t say what’s happening in the film because we want it to be a surprise, but he’s not replacing Tony Todd. That’s been reported, and I was just like, ‘I don’t know what to say about this. This is not right.’ However he is still in the film, but no word as of yet what role he is playing.”

The film is set for theatrical release on June 12, 2020.

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