Arnold And ‘Conan The Barbarian’ Reunited: Universal Reboots Action Franchise With Schwarzenegger

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has made a deal for The Legend Of Conan, an action film that will star Arnold Schwarzenegger in one of his signature roles as Robert E. Howard’s mythic barbarian. The deal brings Conan and Schwarzenegger back to Universal, which released the first film that launched Schwarzenegger’s movie career back in 1982. Universal has world rights on the film.

The film will be produced by Fredrik Malmberg and Chris Morgan. Malmberg is CEO of Paradox Entertainment, which holds the rights to Conan. Morgan is the Universal-based writer and producer whose credits include the last four Fast And The Furious films, along with Wanted and 47 Ronin. Morgan has hatched the story and might write the script. The caveat is that the studio wants The Legend Of Conan for summer 2014, and Morgan might not be finished writing the seventh Fast And Furious installment by then. If that happens he will be a very active producer, because this is Morgan’s dream project.

Schwarzenegger starred in two Conan films before moving on to Terminator and other blockbusters as he became the world’s biggest action star. Paradox was involved in a 2011 reboot at Millennium Films that starred Jason Momoa and misfired. Paradox’s Malmberg, who moved the project away from Warner Bros after seven years of development with big-name filmmakers because the project was moving too slowly, feels that this is the version of the film that he and everybody else always wanted to see on the screen but couldn’t while Schwarzenegger was governor of California.

“The original ended with Arnold on the throne as a seasoned warrior, and this is the take of the film we will make,” Malmberg told me. “It’s that Nordic Viking mythic guy who has played the role of king, warrior, soldier and mercenary, and who has bedded more women than anyone, nearing the last cycle of his life. He knows he’ll be going to Valhalla, and wants to go out with a good battle.”

There are no plans for Momoa to return. Morgan said that in his mind, The Legend Oof Conan not only skips over that film, but also the 1984 sequel that Schwarzenegger starred in. The direct link is to the original, which was directed by John Milius from a script he wrote with Oliver Stone. That was a testosterone-laced exploration of Howard’s mythology of a child sold into slavery who grows into manhood seeking vengeance against the warlord who slaughtered his family and his village.

“After the original seminal movie, all that came after looked silly to me,” Morgan said. “Robert E. Howard’s mythology and some great philosophy from Nietzsche to Atilla the Hun was layered in the original film. People say, he didn’t speak for the first 20 minutes of the film, but that was calculated in depicting this man who takes control of life with his own hand. 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.”

They’ve yet to figure out whether the film will be R-rated like that original, but they won’t flinch from the hardness of the period depicted.

“I loved the choices they made in that film,” Morgan said. “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. By the end of that film, Conan became a certain character, and this film picks him up there, as he faces different challenges that include dealing with age.”

Said Schwarzenegger: “I always loved the Conan character and I’m honored to be asked to step into the role once again. I can’t wait to work with Universal and the great team of Fredrik Malmberg and Chris Morgan to develop the next step of this truly epic story.”

Universal co-president of production Jeff Kirschenbaum will oversee the project, and attorneys Patrick Knapp and Richard Thompson made the deal for Paradox. CAA reps Schwarzenegger along with Knapp and Jake Bloom. ICM Partners reps Morgan.

Comments (149)

  • Conan the Octogenarian

    Comment by Andrew — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 2:13pm PDT  
    • Uh….Have you folks not heard of King Conan?
      ….there are many stories that focus on him during that age.

      Comment by Joe — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 4:31pm PDT  
    • As far as a new Conan movie NAME,..it would be advisable to continue the franchise by naming it something that goes well with the other titles and the comic books. No other name would make as much sense as,……………………Conan The King.
      Think about it,….Conan THE Barbarian,…..Conan THE Destroyer,…..and then,…Conan THE King. With respect to his age, it would make sense since, in his character he would show his age and wisdom to be king. Also, if I remember correctly,..it’s been a while,…at the end of the Destroyer movie, he was already sitting on a throne as if the next installment was going to be the ovbvious “king” role. It just makes sense!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Comment by John — Friday October 26, 2012 @ 1:47pm PDT  
    • Even though the screenwriter does sound like he understands the original, it definitely needs Milius’s input. I want to know what they’re going to do about the soundtrack, pity Poledouris is dead. It would be great if they could do a variation on the original score.

      Comment by Basilzarharoff — Saturday October 27, 2012 @ 4:25pm PDT  
      • Yeah, I agree, great tragedy that Poledouris is dead, I’d suggest Vangelis in he’s place, but whilst he’s as great a composer – totally different style. :/

        Perhaps someone from Blizzard’s cinematic department, but I don’t really see that happening either, so I guess we are left with either the Soule brother’s, Bill Brown or Inon Zur… all great artists/composers in their own rights.

        Comment by Felix Kütt — Monday November 5, 2012 @ 7:10am PST  
      • Yeah the music really made the movie or at least the movie would not be such a success without Poledouris’ understanding of what Milius was trying to convey. The new producer NEEDS to understand that and select a composer who has the ability or background to create organic sounds that takes someone back to antediluvian times when gods walked with men, men were heroes and villains ,women were treacherous, and magnificent beasts roamed the vast wilds.

        Comment by Low — Wednesday November 7, 2012 @ 9:01am PST  
      • Milius was the greatest choice to tell this tale and Poledouris the greatest to compose it’s sound. Milius NEEDS to be consulted at least so the producers understand the time frame and the world he was trying to bring forth. This is not some wild fantasy land this is pre-history, post Atlantis times. Before Sumer, Egypt, India, and China when the character that gave birth to all of those ancient civilizations was being developed after the recovery from a great world cataclysm. Not cheap CGI-SiFi but an imagined historical account of a man and society from an antediluvian world. That and the music is what made the first movie a legend in it’s own right. Realistic functional costumes and backdrops, little to no CGI, and real violence.This is not Avatar. This is not Legend with Tom Cruise; This is The LEGEND of CONAN with SHWARZENEGGER!!!

        Comment by Low — Wednesday November 7, 2012 @ 9:16am PST  
        • hi there.i can`t wait to see the new Conan..if the makers of the new movie reed this i would like to say some think….I THINK THE END OF THE NEW MOVIE SHOULD BE IN THE SAME CAVE WHERE CONAN FOUND THE SWORD/WE ARE TALKING ABOUT CONAN IN THE OLD AGE/AND I THINK HE/CONAN/SHOULD SIT IN THAT THRONE OF DEATH AND WITH THE HAND ON THE SWORD HE DIES WITHOUT BLINKING HES EYES/SITING WHERE THE DEATH MAN WAS SITED…i thing this will be the greatest end for a SUPER hero like CONAN..thx..wish you all the best

          Comment by Abdullah — Monday December 3, 2012 @ 11:46am PST  
          • Conan a super hero ???? Conan could be defined as an anti-hero, he’s a thief ( and not the Robin Hood’s kind) a savage with their own codes that takes by force what he wants.

            Comment by pablo perez — Wednesday February 6, 2013 @ 10:45am PST  
    • There needs to be some Black Metal involved in the soundtrack.
      Conan and it’s message is a code for Black Metal and the new North Atlantic Heathen movement. The story must continue with the destruction of all the cults who would destroy all others if left alone. Conan journeys from the Heart of the North with a huge army to the Heart of the South – the original home of the snake cult!

      Comment by Orchant — Tuesday November 13, 2012 @ 1:07pm PST  
    • Milius needs a hand in this. Quit being stupid with the IP and go consult Milius.

      Comment by Bob — Saturday December 15, 2012 @ 10:07am PST  
  • Holy hell. I never thought I’d see this happen. So glad Arnold chose this over T5. But what about John Milius?? His KING CONAN: CROWN OF IRON script sounded epic.

    Comment by dan day — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 2:19pm PDT  
    • Take the movie script from Robert E. Howards only fully length novel…Hour of the Dragon….Arnold can wear chain mail and aketon to hide any physical shortcomings, but remember if it’s an older Conan, the body does drop a bit.

      Comment by Isa — Friday October 26, 2012 @ 12:58am PDT  
  • shirtless arnold? NEED MORE CGI.

    Comment by 6 — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 2:27pm PDT  
  • How ridiculous….who the f… wants to see 60 years old Conan…. sad state of the business that we can’t come up with more original ideas than this….. very disturbing!

    Comment by gino50 — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 2:28pm PDT  
    • How about EVERYONE BUT YOU? o_o

      Comment by Eric — Wednesday November 7, 2012 @ 9:02pm PST  
    • The first story of Conan was when he was King and old, so doing this movie is not a bad idea.

      Comment by Roberto — Wednesday December 19, 2012 @ 4:06pm PST  
  • Faaaccckkkiiinng WOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!! YES!!

    Comment by Jon — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 2:29pm PDT  
  • This sounds completely ludicrous…Isn’t Anold like 70 years old? This will be a disaster. The Arnold Conan films in NO WAY capture Howard’s Conan universe….The first one was OK but it was seriously no better than that last one they made…The new Conan dude looked much more like the Conan described in the books and the film was larger in scope than Arnold running around in the desert for two movies..Conan of the novels was educated, spoke several languages, was a stealthy thief, a genius of battle tactics, a General of armies, and eventually a king…Does any of that sound like Arnold? I hate the Arnold Conan movies and I will straight up say that the other guy who played the part was BETTER…Yeah I said it!

    Comment by Jason — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 2:30pm PDT  
    • Thanks for the input, Jason Momoa.

      Comment by Jay — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 2:53pm PDT  
      • If Jason Momoa knows that much about Conan, I’m impressed. He’s an actor, not a writer.

        Maybe the Jason who wrote that post should write the movies, he seems to have a good grasp of the source material, more than has ever come through in the movies, though the Momoa film was at least a good approximation, sabotaged by a poor script and skimpy budget.

        Comment by sffan — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 4:08pm PDT  
        • Actually, Jason Momoa was set to write the sequel if the movie did well. So, apparently, he IS a writer. Or thinks he is.

          Comment by Mr. Coleman — Saturday October 27, 2012 @ 8:29am PDT  
    • Yeah, Momoa was a much better casting choice for Conan than Arnold, but his Conan movie stunk. The original Conan movie played fast and loose with the lore, but was still a good movie. I think Arnold will make a great old King Conan if they treat this movie with the respect it deserves.

      Comment by phroZac — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 4:20pm PDT  
      • Do what!!! Momoa sucked he did NOT have the look or build to play Conan and that is one of many reasons that POS of a film flopped! Arnold was a much better Conan than Momoa could ever drwam of being. I like the idea of an aged Conan, the old king who would rather die in battle than on a bed. This idea has great potential if they do it right, but after seeing that re-boot piece of crap with Moma I am VERY skeptical!

        Comment by Brian — Friday October 26, 2012 @ 7:01am PDT  
        • Actually Momoa every much DID have the physical look of the R.E. Howard Conan. Black hair, athletic and panther-like, as opposed to ripped with steroids… Problem is, That’s the ONLY thing that horrible movie got right.
          Sure the Arnold Conan movies were a bit campy… but it was a campy period, and people didn’t know Conan (Or Howard) all that well back then. Man of us were kids where it came out and we loved those movies, and now we’re adults, have read the actual stories, and are hoping for a true rebirth of Conan, not an horror all mixed up with Kull stories (seriously, an Acheron artifact? Conan never touched that kinda things, it was a Kull theme).

          Comment by Eric — Wednesday November 7, 2012 @ 9:08pm PST  
          • Momoa didnt do it for me. No one yet had captured the spirit of Robert E Howards work. Me thinks it would take someone like a JJ Abrahams, a Michael Bay or a Ridley Scott – Cameron type of Guy. The Dark Knight comes to mind. Short of that it would take a miracle to do the character justice. I wouldnt be interested unless I saw a name of that caliber attached to it

            Comment by Koop — Monday April 29, 2013 @ 4:22am PDT  
    • You obviously never read the stories of Conan after he became the king of Aquilonia and had his son, Conn…

      Comment by Dieter der Blau — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 6:05pm PDT  
      • If such stories exist, they were not written by Robert E. Howard, or during his lifetime. If I recall correctly, there was just one or two stories written by him that were about Conan once he had become king. In the one I remember better he only met his future queen, so there were no children yet. The other one I remember less well, and it was short anyway. Can’t remember a Conn though.

        Comment by Ilmari — Friday October 26, 2012 @ 4:44am PDT  
        • That’s pretty accurate. Phoenix in the Sword was the first Conan story written by Howard and Conan was king in that one. The second story you remember (meeting Zenobia) is Hour of the Dragon. The whole Conan II (they call him Conn) thing comes in the deCamp / Carter novels (with a single odd installment by Nyberg).

          I know a lot of people don’t like the de Camp / Carter stuff, but it doesn’t go too far astray thematically. They just don’t have Howard’s style and, I think, uncompromising adherence to storytelling – racism and mysogyny be damned.

          Comment by Ayep — Wednesday October 31, 2012 @ 12:19pm PDT  
      • Legendary (and deceased) fantasy artist Frank Frazetta said his ideal Conan would be a 6’5″ Charles Bronson. “He wouldn’t need to know how to act, only to kill.”

        Comment by Chris A. — Wednesday August 7, 2013 @ 9:29am PDT  
    • Gotta say, I’m slighty interested. But the first movie said Conan was a slave. Conan was never a slave in Howard’s universe! He was born during battle as shown in the Euro third movie.

      Also, Howard NEVER wrote stories of Conan having a son. Fritz Leiber and Lin Carter finished out some fragments and came up with that idea for Lancer Books in the mid-1960′s. But he did have KIng Conan looking back on his life.

      Outside of Howard himself, the Best Conan stories were by writer Roy Thomas, with John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala doing the art in the really great Savage Sword Of Conan Magazine in the 1970′s and 80′s.

      It’s funny, I’m putting my Robert E. Howard collection on Ebay soon
      and I was just just looking at the flat covers to the ACE books (they bought the rights and cover art from Lancer).

      If only the GREAT Frank Frazetta was still alive to paint the movie poster!!!!

      Comment by Ron — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 11:35pm PDT  
      • It was L Sprague De Camp (not Fritz Leiber) and Lin Carter who took some of the story fragments and notes from Howard’s estate and wrote additional stories that were never in the originals published in Weird Tales.

        The Hour of the Dragon would be the perfect Conan story to make into a film. All of the stories that occurred after that time frame do not have the punch of that story.

        (Hour of the Dragon was bastardized for plot elements in the godawful Kull movie with Kevin Sorbo.)

        Comment by John Jones — Friday October 26, 2012 @ 12:04pm PDT  
        • John:

          I stand corrected. I got intensely interested in Howard and I never read the other writers Conan work except for a few pages. It’s like loving the original ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’ and sitting through the re-make. yeah, you puke rather quickly.

          For those reading these posts, Check out the DVD, ‘The Whole Wide World’, Which features a story based on the real Bob Howard. It was in the 3 dollar bin at Big Lots.

          As I said in my first post, The early ‘Savage Swords’ is the way to go if you want more Conan.

          Comment by Ron — Friday October 26, 2012 @ 4:25pm PDT  
    • ..don’t forget pirate, corsair and mercenary.

      Comment by Isa — Friday October 26, 2012 @ 1:02am PDT  
    • I have read everything Howard ever wrote about Conan & Momoa didn’t look ANYTHING like the character. Granted they did not make Arnold look exactly like Howard’s character (no square cut mane), but he had a MUCH better look than that stick boy Momoa! As for capturing the Howard universe the 82 version did a MUCH better job than that P.O.S. of a re-boot! True Conan was no dummy, & the 82 version shows that if you paid attention! Also if I recall right Milius was also drawing on the work of Frank Frazetta the man who really gave Conan the look & feel that many people think of as a barbarian. In short Momoa SUCKED as Conan, & that re-boot flopped because of that (& a sorry story line)! This film has the potential to be great if they do it right & stay away from re-boot crap, and crappie comic book story like the did with the 2nd Conan film, but even that was better than that Momoa piece of sh1t!

      Comment by Brian — Friday October 26, 2012 @ 7:24am PDT  
    • With all do respect. The new Conan movie was total bullshit. There’s a reason it was a total bomb.
      The acting was horrible.

      Comment by John — Friday October 26, 2012 @ 1:45pm PDT  
    • Dude you are smokin some serious crack if you think Mamoa was better than Arnold. I dont even like Arnold but the one thing he did a great job in his role was Conan.

      Comment by Rob — Friday October 26, 2012 @ 4:45pm PDT  
    • Dude, that IS the idea. If there can ever be a Conan in this world. It is Arnold. And in Conan’s last adventure he was like 70. Perfect match ever. Conan became a king by his own hand. And Arnold became the man he became by his own hand. Just appearance is not enough to play Conan. Character is needed.

      Comment by Erdal — Wednesday November 7, 2012 @ 1:07pm PST  
    • Could’nt agree with you more. Howard’s Conan was almost nowhere to be found in the steroid users films. (Conan did’nt need performance enhancing dope to be the best @ what he did) Jason Mamoa was pretty close to Howards descrtiption. He may not of been roided out like Arnold but if you stood the two of them next to each other (even when Arnold was young) Mamoa would make the Austrian look small. There’s a big difference between fake Hollywood roid muscle and say, the muscle of a gymnist or pro boxer. They can actually use their bodys.

      And can anyone tell me why Robert E. Howards original stories have never been truely adapted for film? The first film just took elements from them and thru in alot of Genghis Khan. While the Mamoa film failed to capture any of Howards great stories, they were still a better attempt @ it. That film just needed a real director instead of that 3rd rate hack they got. (Remember “Pathfinder” or the re-make of “Friday the 13th”? – Uuughhh) To bad that the great Ray Harryhausen could never get his adaption to Howard’s Conan story, “The Devil in Iron” made when he pitched it to Hollywood back in the late ’50′s. He wanted the massive and black haired Clint Walker to play Conan. That would have been something.

      Comment by Garrett — Saturday November 10, 2012 @ 3:36pm PST  
    • You know, I have to agree with you here. Conan is yet to be acted as his character was intended by Howard, but the 2011 JM attempt was closer. Not using a Howard adapted script let the 2011 Conan down more than the acting.

      Comment by Mike — Sunday April 7, 2013 @ 2:09am PDT  
    • Im with you on this one…keep it true Conan…bringing back Arnold.awsome.Im freeking loving this COCNAN 4EVER.

      Comment by BIG GARY — Wednesday May 1, 2013 @ 6:24pm PDT  
  • How tired and painfully boring… depressing actually… Arnold should learn from Norma Desmond. Better to stay off the big screen!

    Comment by Joe Gillis says... — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 2:32pm PDT  
    • He’s still big – it’s the pictures that got small.

      Comment by will — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 4:21pm PDT  
  • The John Milius/Oliver Stone original was just oozing with macho posturing and ersatz Nietzechean preposterousness. In a good way! I’m excited that Morgan is so enchanted with circling back to Conan sitting on that burdensome throne. Let’s just hope they don’t hire an empty-headed stylist as a director. Maybe hire an old pro with a few brain cells. Or, hmmm, Neil Marshall? Ben Wheatley? Joe Cornish? Someone from HBO’s stable of directors? A decade ago I might have suggested Tsui Hark. He could make a truly insane Conan movie.

    Comment by Johnny Ringo — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 2:32pm PDT  
    • Totally agree with you on directors. Marcus Nispel was a disaster the moment he signed on. Ridley Scott or Michael Mann would make a mature, gritty Conan Saga.

      Comment by phroZac — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 4:23pm PDT  
    • They can’t use the Milius script because it is owned by Warner Bros., who had been developing this project many years prior.

      “The Milius script was commissioned by and is owned by a different studio so they can’t be used in this production, but we have great respect for Milius’s work,” Zetterberg tells TheArnoldFans.

      Paradox comments here:

      http://www.thearnoldfans.com/news/2012/10/25/arnold-signs-on-for-conan-paradox-explains-the-king-title-ch.html

      Milius as an Exec. Producer? Who knows?

      Comment by Observer — Friday October 26, 2012 @ 8:11am PDT  
  • Crom!! Excellent and unexpected news!

    Comment by Tony — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 2:34pm PDT  
  • It’s too bad they can’t use Milius’s “King Conan: Crown of Iron” script he wrote for the Wachowskis to produce. It was truly glorious.

    Comment by bounder — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 2:34pm PDT  
    • They could easily use it and they should but Milius is old and cold while Morgan is young and hot so Universal will let Chris do what he wants. It’s sad because Milius was the one director who deserved the chance to do this and now they won’t let him near it.

      Comment by Conan the Librarian — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 3:04pm PDT  
      • Very true, and sadly too. Even though Milius is older, he definitely should get to direct King Conan. If the Wachowskis were involved that would help put the studio at ease. I don’t know why they can’t do King Conan, and it would make use of Arnold’s age. Maybe there needs to be more fan outcry for Milius. But then if he hasn’t directed for a while it could be a Lucas situation. At least they have abandoned the reboot and gone for a retro-boot.

        Comment by Jawsphobia — Thursday October 25, 2012 @ 4:22pm PDT  
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