Arnold Schwarzenegger turned 66 today, but you wouldn't know it by looking at his demanding work schedule. He'll be appearing in three different films over the next 9-12 months, before he turns his attention to one of the remaining items on his to-do list. The priority for the actor/ex-bodybuilder/ex-governor after he finishes Terminator 5 would appear to be The Legend of Conan: an installment that was first teased over thirty years ago, with the final shot in director John Milius' Conan the Barbarian movie (showing Arnold as an older Conan sitting atop a throne, with a beard and troubled brow).
During the 2013 International Comic-Con, Fredrik Malmberg, president and CEO of Paradox Entertainment - the owner of the Conan franchise rights - provided The Arnold Fans with an update on development for Legend of Conan. The site has now published the whole of that interview, which addresses such topics as the film's potential cast, budget, score, and the (Possibility? Inevitability?) that the fantasy epic will be released in 3D.
On the subject of how much Schwarzenegger will be the focus in Legend of Conan, Malmberg told TAF:
"The idea for this particular film is that he will be the lead, a lot of people ask if we're going to introduce a son of Conan and passing the torch? The idea is to not. No, this is Conan's movie. This is Arnold's movie!"
The theory that Legend of Conan might, in essence, reboot the franchise by introducing Conan's son gained some traction this week, based on Malmberg's own comments (from the same TAF interview) about how the film could be the start of a new trilogy. Speaking in a purely speculative mode, that would make the film a prime opportunity to establish the next generation of Barbarian - assuming that audiences are interested in seeing that (see: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, for a cautionary example where that did NOT prove to be the case).
Much of the anticipation for Legend of Conan is based on the proposition that this movie will serve as a final hurrah for Arnold as the eponymous character - allowing him to bid the Cimmerian warrior farewell in the appropriate meta-fashion (as far as his acting career goes). While his more recent trilogy comments might seem to contradict that idea, Malmberg's previous claim was in line with expectations: that Legend of Conan will be to Arnold's run as Conan what Unforgiven was to Clint Eastwood's career in the western genre (i.e. a capstone installment).
Therefore, it could make sense for a few supporting cast members from Conan the Barbarian - save for the late Mako (who played The Wizard and narrated the film) - to return for Legend of Conan, to help Schwarzenegger finish his tenure as the character - or, at the least, help to bridge the gap to a new trilogy (see: the logic for bringing Arnold back to headline the Terminator franchise reboot).
Malmberg addressed that idea in his interview:
"There's Sven-Ole...he's a cool guy. I guess at this point, there's definitely some room for that but it has to make sense and it can't be cheesy. It has to be very believable and it's also crucial to Arnold that this is not too much of a throwback and yet it pays homage...it should pay some respect to the original movies but there has to be a real reason for it."
Star Wars: Episode VII will include returning cast members from the original Star Wars trilogy - for storytelling purposes - and is bringing back John Williams as the composer, in part to help and better link the new era of Star War movies to previous installments. For similar reasons, if anyone besides Schwarzenegger reprises their roles from Milius' film in Legend of Conan, it ought to be important to the story - not just as a shout-out to longtime fans (see: fan service). That goes double, as far as the recycling of Basil Poledouris' musical themes for Milius' Conan the Barbarian is concerned.
When asked if Legend of Conan will reuse any of Poledouris' recordings, Malberg gave the following intriguing (if evasive) answer:
"What we could do...Jay [Zetterberg of Paradox] told me they found more of Basil's score. There's like another full hour of unreleased music. I didn't know he wrote more. As he was passing, they had a big outdoor concert in Spain with he music from Conan so he definitely has a big following and the score was fantastic. The question is, are you dating the movie by the same score? But I love that score. Everyone loves that score."
Poledouris' central leitmotif from Conan the Barbarian (listen to it here) is quite majestic and would give the proceedings in Legend of Conan a fittingly grandiose flavor. Similarly, the inclusion of Poledouris' primary theme in Legend of Conan would be another way to get some important bridge-building done, while allowing the chance for the film to pay respects to the past (see: the inclusion of elements from John William's iconic Superman score in Bryan Singer's Superman Returns).
As far as the budget for Legend of Conan is concerned, Malmberg said:
"With today's production values, we can probably do a lot more with what they were doing way back then. I mean we have seen what Peter Jackson has done. I think of course this is probably more grounded and less fantastical with less creatures and CG monsters. We want to have some of that fantastical world but we don't want it to become a complete fantasy because what really set Conan the Barbarian apart from all the other fantasy movies is that this feels like our prehistoric earth. Still, we want to make it full of splendor."
Schwarzenegger has said before that Legend of Conan is being designed for an A-list director to helm, with shooting to take place on-location in "Jackson's land" (i.e. New Zealand). That news is more encouraging to hear than Malmberg's suggestion that Legend of Conan will be a proper big-budget affair, seeing how director Marcus Nispel had a $90 million budget at his disposal for the 2011 Conan the Barbarian reboot - and yet, Hyboria in the film still felt like a collection of banal CGI establishing shots and sets, in this writer's opinion. (Translation: A lot of cash plus modern effects and 3D alone do not an impressive "epic" make.)
On that note, as for the possibility that Legend of Conan will be shot in 3D (or post-converted), Malmberg said:
"It's on the table and it's a big studio picture and a big event movie. I wouldn't rule it out but right now, all we're concentrating on is the story. It's a working machine with everyone and marketing people..."
3D could be a useful tool for Legend of Conan, when it comes to allowing the film's director to capture natural landscape backdrops - with the proper amount of depth and attention to detail - and create a captivating and picturesque ancient-fantasy world backdrop (see: Jackson's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies). Or, it could just be a half-hearted gimmick, like in the Conan reboot, among other cheap 3D movies. (Your move, studio heads.)
For more on Legend of Conan, you should read the full interview with Malmberg. In the meantime, Schwarzenegger will re-team with Sylvester Stallone to film The Expendables 3 later this year, in addition to the zombie drama Maggie starring Abigail Breslin (before Arnold turns to work on the fifth Terminator movie).
The Legend of Conan may begin filming as soon as 2014, which means a 2015 or 2016 release date could be in the cards. In the meantime, stay tuned to Screen Rant for more updates on the project.
Source: The Arnold Fans