Awards Profile 2019: David F. Sandberg’s ‘Shazam!’ From Warner Bros.

Welcome to the 2019 Awards Profile series, where we talk about films coming to a theater near you in the coming year (at least at this time of writing). The series analyzes the films and their awards season potential, most notably for the Academy Awards, based on the talents attached, filmmakers involved, and story and source material.  Monday through Friday until mid-May, AwardsCircuit will bring you a new and exciting project and discuss its chances for success. If you have a suggestion for a movie we should cover, include it in the comments section below. If you miss a film covered, click on the tag or category for “Awards Profile.”

FILM: “Shazam!”

DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros. Pictures
DIRECTOR: David F. Sandberg
PRODUCER: Peter Safran
WRITER(S): Henry Gayden and Darren Lamke (based on the comics by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck)
CAST: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Djimon Hounsou
SYNOPSIS: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM! – this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult superhero Shazam. (IMDB)

SCHEDULED RELEASE: April 5, 2019

POTENTIAL HIGHLIGHTS:

Critical buzz on this one has been rather strong. Comparisons have even been made to the 1988 fantasy comedy “Big” which is pretty significant praise. “Big” was not only a commercial hit but an Oscar player as well. Its star Tom Hanks scored a Best Actor nomination while screenwriters Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg were up for Best Original Screenplay.

In addition, star Zachary Levi might be following a similar career pattern as Tom Hanks. Much like Tom Hanks before the release of “Big,” Zachary Levi has been a mainstay on television. Now, he has appeared in the “Thor” sequels. He even had a voice role in “Tangled” which was nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. However, the show “Chuck” is what put him on the map. But this feels like a role to launch him into film stardom.

If the film becomes another “Big,” there’s a possibility this at least contends in Adapted Screenplay. Despite not making it in anywhere else, “Logan” achieved an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. In the process, it became the first superhero film to do so. So, there is a precedent for “Shazam!” to make it in.

POTENTIAL CHALLENGES:

First and foremost, there’s potential superhero bias. Also, the fact that it’s a superhero comedy. Previously, “Deadpool,” which was also a superhero comedy, had a strong industry guild run. Yet, it was still completely shut out on Oscar nomination morning. So, the same double genre bias may strike like a fierce lightning bolt.

Granted, “Deadpool” was much cruder and violent. But still, “Shazam!” simply being a superhero comedy is still a hurdle. Now, “Black Panther” did recently break the superhero glass ceiling in the Best Picture category. However, it still captured the cultural zeitgeist during its release. In the case of “Shazam!,” it might just be seen as a popcorn superhero film. There’s certainly no issue with being a fun popcorn flick that plays well with audiences. But being just fun doesn’t always translate to major awards success.

POTENTIAL AWARDS CATEGORIES IN PLAY:
  • Actor in a Leading Role (Zachary Levi)
  • Adapted Screenplay (Henry Gayden, Darren Lamke)
  • Film Editing (Michel Aller)
  • Sound Mixing (Brian Horrell, John J. Thomson)
  • Sound Editing (Adam Kopald, Bruce Tanis)
  • Visual Effects (Arundi Asregadoo, Pier Lefebvre, Kevin McIlwain, Mike Wassel, Jonathan Weber, Aaron Weintraub)
  • Original Score (Benjamin Wallfisch)
POTENTIAL KEY NOTICES FROM OTHER GROUPS:
  • Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Golden Globes): If Ryan Reynolds can get in for “Deadpool,” there might be hope for Zachary Levi to land a spot here.
  • Best Adapted Screenplay (WGA): The Writers Guild of America is typically very kind to film scripts adapted from comic books.
  • Best Young Performer (Critics’ Choice): Either newcomer Asher Angel or Jack Dylan Grazer, who previously broke through with “It,” could get cited in this category.

What do you think? Are you high on the Oscar prospects on “Shazam!” or is it just a tech player? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

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