|Directed by||Marcus Nispel|
|Produced by||Fredrik Malmberg
Thomas Dean Donnelly
Robert E. Howard
|Studio||Nu Image/Millennium Films|
|Distributed by||North America:
Conan is an upcoming sword and sorcery film based on the character Conan the Barbarian created by Robert E. Howard. It is a new adaptation, separate from the earlier 1980s Arnold Schwarzenegger films. The film is set to star Jason Momoa in the lead role, being supported by Rachel Nichols, Stephen Lang and Ron Perlman, with Marcus Nispel directing a script by Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, Dirk Blackman, Howard McCain and Sean Hood.
The film had spent seven years of development at Warner Bros. before the rights were shifted to Nu Image/Millenium Films in 2007, with a clause wishing for immediate start on production. Lionsgate entered negotions for distribution, with the film seeing many directors, prominently Brett Ratner, before settling on Nispel in 2009 and has since brought together a cast and crew. Filming began on March 15, 2010.
An outline of the plot can be deduced from released casting information: Khalar Singh, an old friend of Conan's father, Corin, arrives in Cimmeria seeking Corin's help in finding Ilira, the "Lost Queen of Acheron". When Corin refuses, Khalar and his Aquilonian mercenaries attack. Corin and the other Cimmerians are killed but Conan escapes. Conan becomes a thief and eventually seeks revenge against Khalar for killing his father. In the meantime, Khalar has found and captured Ilira on his own but her bodyguard Tamara escapes. Tamara meets Conan and they both travel to Khalar's city, Khor Khala. Conan kills Khalar and rescues Ilira.
Some characters have no known cast yet but were revealed in released casting information.
There had been talk in the late 1990s of a second Conan sequel following Conan the Destroyer, a about an older Conan, set to be titled King Conan: Crown of Iron. However, due to Arnold Schwarzenegger's election in 2003 as governor of California, this project came to an end.
Warner Bros. spent 7 years trying to get the project off the ground, with development attempts made by Larry and Andy Wachowski, John Milius, and Robert Rodriguez who was closest to completing development but left the project for Grindhouse. Boaz Yakin was hired in 2006 to start again, however, in June 2007 the rights reverted to Paradox Entertainment, though all drafts made under Warner remained with them. Paradox's CEO, Fredrik Malmberg, told Variety "we have great respect for Warner Bros., but after seven years, we came to the point where we needed to see progress to production." Paradox were auctioning the rights after and various groups took interest in producing, including New Line Cinema, Hollywod Gang, and Millenium Films.
Due to development-time frustrations felt when the rights were with Warner, Malmberg made deal terms where he was asking for $1 million for a one-year option, with another $1 million for each year's renewal. In August 2007, it was announced that Millenium had acquired the right to the project in a unrevealed seven-figure deal, with Malmberg and Millennium's Avi Lerner, Boaz Davidson, Joe Gatta, and George Furla set to produce. The deal was brokered by Gatta, who originally made the deal between Paradox and Warner in 2002. Production was aimed for a Spring 2006 start, with intention of having stories more faithful to the Robert E. Howard creation.
After the partnership on Rambo, Nu Image/Millenium and Lionsgate partnered on this film off the strength of the relationship, and the happiness by Millenium producers of the way Rambo was handled. Lionsgate were announced to be handling North America's distribution in January 2008. At this point, Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer had been courted to write the script. Nu Image/Millennium founders Lerner and Danny Dimbort were set to fully finance the film at an estimated $100 million. With a brief effort of developing Red Sonja with Rose McGowen as the lead, Robert Rodriguez had mentioned in July 2008 he had been in discussions to produce Conan also. Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain were announced in August to have been hired for a re-write of the script, with the intention of returning back the original source material and in the desire of making an R-rated film.
In Novemeber 2008, Brett Ratner was prematurely announced to be the director of Conan to The Hollywood Reporter by Lerner, something which displeased him as he pointed out "I am not doing Conan now. This is totally premature. For now, Conan is only a development deal. I have a deal at Paramount and I'm doing Beverly Hills Cop [IV] first, no matter what. Avi shouldn't be telling you or anyone else in the press what I'm doing." However, Gatta revealed in May 2009 that after 6 months of discussions on developing the film, Ratner was off the project due to the busyness of Ratner's scedule. Regardless, Gatta was hopeful of still meeting the intention of Millenium to start filming on August 24 in Bulgaria. June 2009 revealed Marcus Nispel would take the reigns of director to the film. Sean Hood was announced in February 2010 to be rewriting the script once more for the producers.
In January 2010, Jason Momoa was selected for the role of Conan. Momoa beat Kellan Lutz for the role. He was enrolled on a intense six-week training program at a stunt and martial arts academy in Los Angeles for his part, whilst still finalizing negotiations for the film. Momoa intends to add 10 pounds of muscle to his 215 pound frame, with the help of The Bourne Ultimatum's stunt performer David Leitch, and the martial arts stunt coordinator for The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, Chad Stahelski.
The casting call for Conan's fater, Corin, reveals the character to be "powerfully built, intelligent, graceful, master swordsman, skilled blacksmith, de facto leader of Cimmerians and Conan's father. He resolves to answer the terrible request of his dying wife and cuts Conan out of her so she can see him. He then shoulders the burden of raising Conan, which proves to be daunting given the boy's savage nature. Corin teaches his son the meaning of the sword: a hot blade must be cooled and tempered. When Khalar finally corners him and tortures him to death, he shows no regret nor pain, hiding his concern for his son's safety from the eyes of the enemy." Mickey Rourke first entered negotiations. Originally talks had happened before but after a period of no talk, offers were returned back to Rourke in February 2010. Rourke had however left the project for a second time, in apparent favour of the Dawn of War film. Ron Perlman took on the character in March 2010.
Bob Sapp portrays Ukafa, "a leader of Kushite Tribemen from the savannahs of Kush. Ukafa is Khalar Singh’s second in command, jealous that Singh’s son, Fariq, will one day be warlord. He obeys his leader but plots the overthrow of his son. He is a mighty warrior and unbeatable in battle—until he meets Conan."
Rachel Nichols joined the cast as Tamara, described as "the Queen’s servant, bodyguard and best friend. She and many other female bodyguards to the queen have been in hiding most of their lives because of the curse of Acheron, which would take the queen’s life to bring almost immortal power to its king. When Khalar Singh, a powerful warlord with ambitions to become the king of Acheron, storms the monastery and captures all of the novitiates, she is separated from Ilira, the one she must protect. With all of her strength and will, Tamara is determined to find and rescue her. She finds herself in league with Conan because of a mutual need to find Khalar Singh. She is not in the least intimidated by Conan’s size or grim demeanor and their alliance eventually blossoms into something that surprises them both."
Stephen Lang will play the Khalar Singh, described to be "commanding in size and manner, a warlord and formidable warrior, brilliant, cruel, weathered and tanned by the many campaigns he has waged and won. He is driven in his quest to find the Queen of Acheron and has been building an empire to do so."
Filming was first hoped to be started in Spring 2008. Nothing was set until Ratner came on board. Filming had a set date for August 24, 2008, in Bulgaria. Ratner however departed in May that year, and the start-date for filming was pushed back, with South Africa being revealed as another filming destination. Filming finally began, in Bulgaria, on March 15, 2010.