Nu Image/Millennium Films’ 2011 Conan the Barbarian movie franchise reboot was both a critical bust and commercial bomb ($49 million worldwide on a $90 million budget), but that hasn’t prevented the studio powers that be from attempting to bring the mythical Hyborian age back to the big screen. Universal Pictures may start production this year on The Legend of Conan (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the elderly Conan), while Millennium now has a new writer developing a Red Sonja reboot.
Red Sonya, a character featured in Conan the Barbarian creator Robert E. Howard’s 1934 short story “The Shadow of the Vulture”, inspired the comic book character Red Sonja (a.k.a. She-Devil with a Sword), created by Barry Windsor-Smith and Roy Thomas for the Conan comic books during the 1970s. Sonja is widely considered the basis for the archetypal female barbarian warrior in the fantasy genre; she made her big screen debut with the critically-trashed 1985 film starring Brigitte Nielsen as Red Sonja and costarring Schwarzenegger as “Kalidor” (basically Conan renamed, due to rights issues with the character).
THR reports that Nu Image/Millennium Films has recruited screenwriter Christopher Cosmos to put together a fresh script draft for a Red Sonja reboot, in order to jump-start progress on the project after the last few years of dormancy. Cosmos is a former production assistant (on comedies like We’re the Millers) who’s since begun pursing a career as a genre movie scribe, having already sold his script for a post-apocalyptic thriller titled The Fall.
A modern version of Red Sonja has proven to be a tough nut for Millennium Films to crack, which helps explain why the studio has turned to a fresh (but also untested) creative perspective to work on the screenplay. Back in the 2000s, Robert Rodriguez had geared up to direct a Red Sonja reboot that never happened, starring his Planet Terror lead (and then-girlfriend) Rose McGowan – who went on to appear in the Conan reboot instead – and a few years back, Simon West (The Expendables 2) was lined up to call the shots on a Red Sonya reboot with Amber Heard eyed for the lead, before the Conan reboot’s poor box office performance led those plans to fall by the wayside.
There probably isn’t going to be a Hyborian Cinematic Universe in the future, seeing as Legend of Conan and Red Sonja are being developed by different studios. However, the latter could appeal to members of the geek film community calling for more female action movie leads, be they superheroes (Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel) or familiar globe-trotting adventurers (Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider reboot). On the flip side, though, Red Sonja may not have a ton of brand recognition pull nowadays – a lesson Millennium learned the hard way, with the Conan reboot.
Similarly, given how many previous attempts to bring Red Sonja back to the big screen haven’t panned out, there’s no guarantee this latest iteration will be able to climb out of the early development cycle either (the developing The Crow reboot is in the same boat). Nevertheless, the title character is a staple of geek fantasy pop culture, so this almost certainly won’t be the last time we hear about a Red Sonja film reboot making its way down the pipeline – again.
We’ll bring you more information on Red Sonja when we have it.