The Highlander reboot has been passed around a number of times - prompting endless "There can be only one!" jokes in the process - without ever reaching the pre-production stage. It began when Fast & Furious helmer Justin Lin dropped out as director, after which he was replaced by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later), with Ryan Reynolds being lined up to star. However, Fresnadillo wound up leaving the project too and finally, around six months later, Reynolds formally withdrew his candidacy, leaving the film is need of both a new director and star.
Summit is still on the lookout for a proper leading man to become the next incarnation of Connor MacLeod, but the studio has found another director for the project - one whose intention is to begin principal photography within the next year, drawing from the script draft written by Matt Holloway and Art Marcum (Iron Man, Punisher: War Zone).
Deadline is reporting that Oscar-nominated visual effects artist Cedric Nicolas-Troyan is set to take the helm on Highlander 2.0, after he impressed studio heads with a pitch that he began working on during this past summer. Holloway and Marcum's script is reported to stick closely to the narrative format of the original 1986 film, starring Christopher Lambert as someone who, at first glance, seems to be an ordinary man; yet, in reality, is an immortal Scottish warrior, who has spent centuries battling others of his kind.
Troyan served as a visual effects supervisor/artist on projects like The Ring as well as the first and second Pirates of the Caribbean movies, before he was hired as a VFX supervisor/second unit director for Snow White and the Huntsman. He continued to go with stylish fairy tale re-imaginings thereafter, by serving as a second unit director on Maleficent - Disney's upcoming revisionist version of Sleeping Beauty - and told Deadline that part of the reason he's decided to tackle the Highlander reboot is so that he may give the story "a modern, visceral take," to update the 1980s stylistic choices of the source movie.
According to the Deadline report, Troyan is a longtime Highlander fanatic and has a particular fondness for the TV series spinoff of the original movie, which aired from 1992 to 1998. It seems that a different writer is going to be brought aboard to do a quick pass on the script for the reboot (as supervised by Troyan), so as to emphasize the particular elements of the franchise mythology that the project's new director feels must be addressed right off the bat.
Here is what that entails, as Troyan put it in his own words:
“For me, it all comes down to that first movie, but there are great themes in the show. It’s the rare cross-genre concept that has elements of the Western, time travel, fantasy, action, contemporary. There are universal themes, but of course you need to provide the answers like the first film did. Who are these guys with swords? Why are they fighting each other? What is the prize and how are they drawn to each other? There is far more at work here I want to explore than the lightning that happens during the Quickening.”
Casting will get underway after the script touchup, with the intention of making a 2014 start date. The plan is to emulate the casting for the original movie - where the lesser-known Lambert was mentored by screen icon Sean Connery - and find "a younger emerging guy" to headline, opposite a more seasoned leading man as his costar. Reynolds got a lukewarm-to-cold reception when he was involved with the project, but this different approach (i.e. no well-established A-lister for the lead) will probably go over better with the Highlander fanbase.
A 2015 release date might be feasible for the Highlander reboot, depending on how early it begins shooting in 2014 (assuming there are no further delays). As always, we shall keep you posted.