Shadowmancer - Press
Last Update: 31 March 2004
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'Shadow' into light
29 March 2004
by Michael Fleming
A producer and financier who've made no films have paid a fortune to secure
screen rights to "Shadowmancer," a fantasy novel that has drawn
comparisons to the "Harry Potter" series.
Lisa Marie Butkiewicz and financier Steve Delaportas confirmed they've
secured movie rights by paying British author G.P. Taylor nearly $1 million
upfront against a potential purchase price of $6.2 million if the film has a
Taylor, an Episcopalian vicar, will also get 15% of merchandising proceeds.
They will produce the film through Fortitude Films, their newly formed
Deal is the latest chapter in the unlikely "Shadowmancer" saga. Taylor is a
former punk rock promoter-turned-policeman-turned-vicar who presides over
St. Mary's Church on the Yorkshire coast, some 300 miles north of London.
When an injury shelved his golf game, Taylor wrote an 18th-century ghost
story about three children's battle against an evil vicar out to control the
world who has the ability to enlist the dead as his forces.
The vicar sold his Harley for $6,000 to fund a self-published first printing,
and after his parishioners bought copies the word spread about the tale and
its religious and spiritual symbolism. Taylor soon had a British publisher
and a runaway bestseller.
He got a $500,000 advance from Putnam for U.S. rights, with a 250,000
first printing to be published in April. After rebuffing several film overtures,
Taylor succumbed to a cold call from Butkiewicz, who'd read about the book
in a Christian magazine. Her passion, plus the promise of a big check, won
"She had a limited track record, but she had fire in the belly and told me
what the heart of the book was in five sentences," Taylor said. "I told her
what I wanted and that I'd make the deal if she could raise that money.
"I guess it was a risk, but 'Shadowmancer' has always helped people out.
My parishioners who paid $10 for that first printing are selling those copies
for $4,000 apiece now. I've taken a high-six figure advance, for tax reasons,
but I'll make $4 million if the film costs $50 million.
"I studied J.K. Rowling's deal and felt she hadn't earned what she could
because she was not properly covered on merchandising. So I trademarked
'Shadowmancer' and the characters and will get 15%. I may be a priest,
I may be a Christian, but I am not a fool and wasn't going to give this away.
I've already done well enough to hang up the dog collar, but I won't, of
Butkiewicz found the money through Delaportas, a venture capitalist whose
group does everything from fix ailing businesses to own hotels and
restaurants. Delaportas was vague about where his group's holdings or
where its funding comes from.
In any case, he had the resources to become the latest entrepreneur
making a big bet on Hollywood. Delaportas had considered other projects
Butkiewicz had brought, but he and his group dropped everything when
she showed up with "Shadowmancer."
"We're putting everything we have behind doing this movie the right way,"
he said. "If we chose to, we could take it all the way to production, but
the key right now is translating this phenomenal story."
Butkiewicz said they are still figuring out whether to align with a
distributor, as they look for an A-list writer to draft the tale.
"I feel like this is a once-in-a-lifetime property, a potential tentpole
project," she said.
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