Big things were supposed to happen with Jason Momoa. In the spring of 2011, the actor was prematurely given the CinemaCon Rising Actor Award. Five months later, the R-rated “Conan The Barbarian” reboot opened and flopped hard, earning a paltry $48 million worldwide on a budget of $90 million. Next, Momoa will be seen grunting with Sylvester Stallone in the cheap-looking “Bullet To The Head,” and as for Conan, it looked like the character was dead. But no property is every truly dead in Hollywood.
Just over a year later, the franchise is getting another reboot, and believe it or not, the 65-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to play the character once again. He’ll star in “The Legend Of Conan,” a project whose storyline will follow the ending of the 1982 original. “This movie picks up Conan where Arnold is now in his life, and we will be able to use the fact that he has aged in this story. I love the property of Conan so much that I wouldn’t touch it unless we came up with something worthy. We think this is a worthy successor to the original film. Think of this as Conan’s ‘Unforgiven,’ ” producer and possible screenwriter on the movie Chris Morgan (“47 Ronin,” “Wanted“) told Deadline.
Momoa is not slated to return, and ‘Legend’ will basically ignore everything that happened in the ‘Conan’ sequels, for a picture that everyone involved says is something the fans have been dying to see. And while there is no decision yet on whether or not the movie — set up at Universal — will embrace an R rating, tonally they want to keep it real at the very least. “I loved the choices they made in that film,” Morgan said of the original. “You start with the wholesale slaughter and death of Conan’s village at the hand of the warlord played by James Earl Jones, and you see young Conan chained to a wheel as he becomes stronger. Then he’s a pit fighter, and later basically a stud bull before he meets the first kind person of his life, who lets him go. All of that horrific stuff happened for a reason, and then an act of kindness sends him on his journey. Will that level of violence be there? Absolutely, but only if it serves a character who lives by that barbarian law of the wild, who is capable of extreme violence and rage, but who has created his own code and operates from within it.”
Of course, no word yet on when this might shoot, but Arnie seems to have a particular desire to revisit the past — and considering “nothing” is happening with “Terminator 5” at the moment, suiting up to play Conan again is probably the next best thing. Of course, whether or not anybody outside of die hard fans want to see a nearly 70-year-old Arnie swing a sword is anybody’s guess, but everyone involved thinks so. The aim right now is for a summer 2014 release, which means this may shoot as early as next year (though a script still needs to be written and that seems a bit optimistic). But will those Conan fans come out when they ignored the franchise last time? Time well tell.