It's not on quite as fast a track as was originally suggested, but Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to the world of Conan The Barbarian is still making its way through development. Back when it was announced last year, producer and chief creative force behind the film Chris Morgan intimated that he might not be able to write the film himself because of his commitments to the Fast & Furious franchise. It seems he was right, since the job of hammering out Legend Of Conan's screenplay has just gone to Andrea Berloff.
To recap if this is all news to you, Legend Of Conan will, we're told, pick up from the end of John Milius' 1982 Conan The Barbarian, where we saw an older King Conan, wearing the jewelled crown of Aquilonia upon his troubled brow. The oft-expressed intent is that the new film will be a sort of Conan Unforgiven, entirely ignoring both Richard Fleischer's 1984 Conan The Destroyer and the 2011 reboot with Jason Momoa.
Schwarzenegger, says Morgan, responded to the notion of an older Conan: "Not a reboot, not a remake. Just an update. Where has the character been all this time? It's a catch-up with Conan. He’s not going out and fighting battles, but he ends up getting drawn into something, and has to access the barbarian he was in his youth."
That is Berloff's mighty agenda. The writer currently has two musical biopics at various stages of development - one about The Fugees, produced by Ridley Scott, and F. Gary Gray's NWA movie Straight Outta Compton - but at the moment is probably best known for writing Oliver Stone's World Trade Centre. Stone wrote the initial drafts of the Milius film, so maybe Berloff could hit him up for some brainstorming. Then again, given how insane some of his ideas were, perhaps she'd best not.
She's "an amazing writer", says Morgan, "who can juggle masculine grittiness with extreme emotional depth. Her take on Conan is powerful and genuine and would make [the character's original creator] Robert E. Howard proud.”
There has been some talk of shooting in New Zealand, but no production details are currently locked, and there's no start date as yet. Arnold seems to have the small matter of a Terminator to deal with first. Enthusiastic studio Universal initially talked about a summer 2014 release, but that would seem impossible at this stage. Expect Legend Of Conan in 2015 at the earliest, and watch this space for updates.