We have learned that Craig Zobel is in talks to executive produce and direct an undisclosed amount of episodes for The Batman HBO Max spin-off series, The Penguin, starring Colin Farrell.
While Craig Zobel is currently signed on as an executive producer for The Penguin on HBO Max, sources say discussions are still ongoing as to the number of episodes he can direct as well as his availability for when the DC production commences in early 2023. Zobel is well regarded within HBO for his recent directing work on Mare of Easttown, which won him 2 Emmys in the Outstanding Limited Series or TV Movie category. In addition to his Emmy recognition, his work on Mare of Easttown also led him to receive one DGA Award nomination and one PGA Award win.
Mare of Easttown was nominated for 7 Emmys last year and won 3 total for Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and Lead Actress. The HBO series, led by Kate Winslet, follows police detective Marianne “Mare” Sheehan as she investigates the recent murder of a teenage mother while trying to keep her own life from falling apart. Craig Zobel has also previously directed select episodes of The Leftovers, American Gods, and HBO’s other cherished ongoing program, Westworld.
Outside of his television work, Craig Zobel is perhaps best known for The Hunt, which fell into a pool of controversy ever since its very inception. Insiders at various studios claimed that they didn’t pursue the film because of its explosive premise. Yet, that didn’t stop Universal from moving forward with The Hunt and planning to meet its initial September 2019 release date. However, The Hollywood Reporter found that Universal Pictures was ”re-evaluating its strategy for the certain-to-be-controversial satire” in the wake of 2 tragic mass shootings where 22 people were murdered at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas and another mass murderer took the lives of 9 people at a bar in Dayton, Ohio.
Following various reports from trade outlets about the inclusion of a line in The Hunt that said “Nothing better than going out to the Manor and slaughtering a dozen deplorables,” FOX News soon published an article that slammed the line’s usage in the film, with the controversy going so far that former Home Alone 2: Lost In New York star Donald Trump referenced the line on his now-suspended Twitter account. Regardless of this media frenzy, Universal Pictures opted to postpone The Hunt following the two tragic mass shootings and did not discuss the film’s eventual release until January, when Blumhouse came on board and agreed to release the film in March 2020, where it was only in theaters for a handful of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic reached the domestic market.
Lauren LeFranc is currently serving as showrunner on HBO Max’s The Penguin and she is no stranger to the comic-book television landscape, having served as a producer and writer on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Her other television credits include work as a story editor on Zachary Levi’s comedy series Chuck for NBC, co-producing one of Netflix’s first original scripted shows Hemlock Grove, and most recently writing and executive producing various episodes of Impulse from 2018 to 2019.
In the initial HBO Max press release for The Penguin, Lauren LeFranc states, ”I have long been a fan of the world of the Batman, and Matt’s film is such a powerful and bold entry into the canon. I am excited and humbled to continue telling stories in the grimy world of Gotham City – and what better excuse to channel my inner villain than to tell the story of Oswald Cobblepot? I am thrilled to work with Colin, Matt, Dylan, 6th & Idaho, Warners, and HBO Max as we work to bring this story to the screen.”
Matt Reeves and Dylan Clark are producing The Penguin through Reeves’ 6th & Idaho Productions and Dylan Clark Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, where Reeves and 6th & Idaho are under an overall deal. 6th & Idaho’s Daniel Pipski and Adam Kassan also serve as executive producers, and Rafi Crohn is a co-executive producer. Not only will Colin Farrell be reprising his role as Oswald Cobblepot, but he will also executive produce the DC crime series.
On returning as The Penguin and executive producing the HBO Max show, Colin Farrell says ”the world that Matt Reeves created for The Batman is one that warrants a deeper gaze through the eyes of Oswald Cobblepot. I couldn’t be more excited about continuing this exploration of Oz as he rises through the darkened ranks to become The Penguin. Will be good to get him back on the streets of Gotham for a little madness and a little mayhem.”
The Penguin on HBO Max looks to expand the Gotham City that was introduced in The Batman and delve into Oswald Cobblepot’s rise to power in the criminal underworld, which would be a fitting task for Craig Zobel’s sensibilities. The DC crime series is currently looking to begin filming in January in New York City with a hope to wrap by late Summer. This could indicate an early-mid 2024 release on the upcoming combined HBO Max/Discovery+ streaming service but it is too early to confirm a concrete release window.