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Fox Digital Studio, Heavy Metal Media and 4th Row Films are in development on a documentary feature film about the sci-fi fantasy magazine Heavy Metal with director Douglas Tirola attached.

Tirola has directed six feature documentaries including A&E IndieFilms’ “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead” about the story of the National Lampoon, and “Brewmaster,” which had its World Premiere at SXSW and is being released by The Orchard. Tirola has produced over a dozen films, most recently the 2018 Sundance film “Bisbee ‘17.”

The influence and culture surrounding Heavy Metal magazine helped popularize high art comics fans when it premiered in 1977 as a publisher of science fiction, fantasy and horror illustrations from around the world. In 1981, the animation from the magazine was used to create the Ivan Reitman film “Heavy Metal,” and its prominence helped create the music genre phrase “heavy metal.” It’s also been cited as an inspiration for filmmakers including  Ridley Scott, Guillermo del Toro and James Cameron.

The project will be overseen and developed by Fox Digital’s VP of production, Steven Johnson, with Heavy Metal’s CEO, Jeff Krelitz, as well as Douglas Tirola and Susan Bedusa serving as the film’s producers on behalf of 4th Row Films.

“We are very interested in making pop-culture docs and horror/sci-fi content at FDS,” said Johnson. “Heavy Metal is the perfect fit; it was a tremendous influence on so many great artists and filmmakers of the genre, and Douglas has a vision that’s going to deliver something really unique.”

Krelitz said, “Heavy Metal has for decades been the launchpad for writers and artists that have gone on to be New York Times best sellers, Academy Award Winners and some of the most recognizable names in the art world. Doug is a film maker that found the most entertaining and informative take on our more than four decades of rich history. We knew immediately he was a perfect fit.”

Paramount Pictures announced in 2008 that it was developing an animated film inspired by Heavy Metal with director David Fincher spearheading the project. The film would have consisted of eight or nine animated segments, each directed by a different helmer including Fincher; Kevin Eastman, the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” co-creator who became owner and publisher of Heavy Metal; and Tim Miller, whose Blur Studios was set to handle the animation. In 2011, Robert Rodriguez announced that he had acquired feature rights to Heavy Metal with plans to develop a large-scale media project and a new animated film.