Arnold Schwarzenegger still plans to reprise his star-making role as Conan the Barbarian one more time on the big screen. The project in question, which has thus far been known as The Legend of Conan, would be a direct sequel to the 1982 Conan movie adaptation (as directed by John Milius) that largely ignores the 1984 sequel Conan the Destroyer and has no connection at all to the 2011 Conan the Barbarian reboot starring Jason Momoa – thus fulfilling the promise of the final scene in Milius’ film, where Schwarzenegger as an old and bearded Conan is shown as a king, sitting on his throne.
Legend of Conan has a finished script, with contributions from writer/producer Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious) and the Oscar-nominated screenwriter Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton), but the project missed its original target of a Spring 2015 production start date – and has essentially been on radio silence since then, as far as significant updates to report on the project are concerned. However, at the “Experience with Arnold Schwarzenegger” event in Edinburgh and Birmingham, Schwarzenegger provided an update on the film and offered his assurances that it will, in fact, be made.
The ArnoldFans report that at said event, Schwarzenegger referred to Legend of Conan as Conan the Conquerer, the original title of the Conan movie trilogy finale that fell into development hell back in the late 1980s. It remains to be seen if Legend of Conan has actually been retitled or if this was just a slip up on Schwarzenegger’s part, but here’s the direct quote from him in question:
“Conan the Conqueror, where I’m sitting on the throne for years and years – decades, and then all of the sudden, the time comes when they want to overthrow me. So that story WILL be told and that movie WILL be done.”
Part of the reason that the original Conan the Conquerer fell off the tracks back in the late 1980s was because Schwarzenegger decided to go and make Predator at a pivotal stage during the former’s pre-production development process. However, the Conan franchise in general was not doing that well at the time either, what with Conan the Destroyer having earned weaker reviews than its predecessor – only for the spinoff Red Sonja to become both a critical and commercial bomb, a year after Destroyer hit theaters. The 2011 Conan reboot didn’t fare well with critics either and it only grossed $48 million worldwide on a $90 million budget. Nevertheless, Schwarzenegger says there is “a serious drive” to make his own third Conan installment, with the search for a director now fully underway, as confirmed by producer Frederick Malmberg:
Yes, Chris Morgan and I are meeting with directors at this moment. Interest is high, many are fans of Conan but we are not rushing. We have a great script and now we need the right director for the job.
From the beginning, Schwarzenegger has voice a desire to recruit an A-list director for The Legend of Conan/Conan the Conquerer, with the intention of making the film a swords and sorcery epic adventure where Conan’s world (originally created by author Robert E. Howard) is treated with the reverence and respect that J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth was shown with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy – as opposed to, the more campy tone of Conan the Destroyer and Red Sonja; not to mention, the B-movie aesthetic of the 2011 Conan reboot. Schwarzenegger now has an opening in his schedule to go make a new Conan adventure too, as Paramount has put the Terminator: Genisys sequels on indefinite hold, instead of starting production on them this year – so the timing of the director search for Conan works out well, as it were.
Legend of Conan/Conan the Conquerer has an advantage over Genisys, in that the former can unfold as an organic continuation of its predecessor(s) – without having to get bogged down in finding ways to reboot the franchise and/or providing creative explanations for Schwarzenegger’s age, like the latter did. Schwarzenegger’s box office pull isn’t as strong as it once was, but Genisys performed well enough at the box office to suggest that another Conan film could follow suit, since it has a similar combination of nostalgic appeal and lucrative genre draw. For these reasons, it might be best for all the concerned parties that Schwarzenegger is now intent on returning to another one of his popular 1980s franchises, seemingly with the intent of closing his run on the series out on a proper, grandiose note – rather than attempt to keep his run on the Terminator movies going for another two movies.
We’ll bring you more information on The Legend of Conan/Conan the Conqueror when we have it.