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Richard Johns, E Elias Merhige launch Promethean Pictures, develop Howl

Feature film Howl

Richard Johns, founder of UK prodco Argo Films, and US auteur film director E Elias Merhige have formed a new production label called Promethean Pictures.

Richard Johns

The UK-based venture is launching with a slate of TV and film projects in development, the first of which is feature film Howl.

According to the execs, Howl is in advanced development and already being reviewed by selected studios and streamers. Described as a drama about love and survival, it tells the story of a friendly family dog that inadvertently gets left at home during an extreme winter after his owners die in a car crash.

Johns and Merhige first worked together as producer and director respectively on 2000 film Shadow of the Vampire, starring Willem Dafoe and John Malkovich.

E Elias Merhige

Johns recently finished filming short film The Shepherd starring John Travolta for Disney+ and, through Argo Films, is developing limited series Biafra with the BBC, Fremantle and a team that includes actor David Oyelowo.

He is also working on a slate of projects with Double Vision in Malaysia’s head of production Min Lim, through a new prodco they launched earlier this year called Sympatico. Argo Films itself was launched late last year.

Merhige first came into the spotlight with his 1991 film Begotten, which was succeeded by Din of Celestial Birds in 2006 and Polia & Blastema: A Cosmic Opera in 2022.

Johns said: “The words ‘unique’ and ‘original’ are thrown around a lot in this industry, but they certainly apply to Elias Merhige. He is, without a doubt, a true visionary, seeing things that nobody else sees and always pushing boundaries. As a result, Promethean – meaning rebelliously creative, innovative and visualising the unseen – was the only name for us.

“Promethean Pictures will be targeting mainstream commercial audiences with its projects but with Elias in the mix, these projects will be anything but ordinary.”

Merhige added: “Richard and I had a brilliant creative partnership more than 20 years ago and that spark never went away. Despite being forced off-radar for a while, I’ve never stopped generating concepts and working out new ways to bring them to life. Partnering with Richard again in Promethean Pictures is the perfect vehicle for so many of these ideas.”

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