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After years in the works, we’ve heard recent rumblings of the long gestating The Legend of Conan, which will not only star franchise icon Arnold Schwarzenegger, be a direct sequel to Conan the Barbarian, and ignore all the other movies, but it could be the beginning of yet another new cinematic universe.
Conan, and many other characters, is the brainchild of pulp author Robert E. Howard. Swedish producer Fredrick Malmberg has long championed the cause of bringing Conan back to the big screen—he even produced the Jason Momoa-starring 2011 reboot, as well as having his hands in Legend. According to Deadline, his new company, Cabinet Entertainment, has acquired the rights to all of Howard’s work, and he has big plans. He says:
These days, it comes down to brands and characters and we are looking at long-term possibilities. We look at how Marvel played out with its rich based of characters, and this too is a universe that lends itself to exploitation in TV and film. There aren’t many libraries like this.
There certainly aren’t many collections like this, as Cabinet now possesses the rights to more than 800 stories. In addition to Conan, there are hundreds of characters that play prominent roles in the world Howard created. Outside of the legendary barbarian, the most notable among these are the likes of Solomon Kane and Kull of Atlantis (also known as Kull the Conqueror—try not to think of the 1997, Kevin Sorbo-starring adaptation, yeesh), and there is a rich wealth of characters and stories that could be mined for potential movies and TV shows.
And from his statement, it seems abundantly clear that is what Malmberg intends to do. He even mentions Marvel by name, and as creating expansive shared universes is currently the name of the game—DC Comics, Ghostbusters, and more all have them in the works—the superhero studio has become the roadmap many now look to follow.
Malmberg also mentioned television as a potential landing place for some of this material, which could be awesome. Game of Thrones has shown that there is definitely a market for this type of high concept, violent, sex-filled fantasy in episodic form, and I would watch the hell out of a Conan series, or any Howard’s characters really.
It’s been 30 years since John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger first brought Conan to the screen, but writer Chris Morgan, who penned The Legend of Conan, recently sounded off on the dark nature of the upcoming movie. He notes that everyone involved is looking to emulate the tone and brutal savagery of the original. According to Morgan, it’s going to be similar thematically to Clint Eastwood’s western Unforgiven, only with swords, in that Conan, now a legend in his own time, confronts his own mortality as he ages.
There’s not much in the way of concrete facts to share about The Legend of Conan just yet. We know that Schwarzenegger will reprise his role, and a couple of as yet unnamed characters will reportedly return as well, but that’s about it. We don’t even have a release date, but you can bet we’ll be keeping a close eye out for news on this front.