Millennium to Ramake Conan the Barbarian

Auugust 13, 2007–Millennium has acquired the rights to make a new series of pictures based on Robert E. Howard's conqueror, Conan the Barbarian.

Paradox Entertainment prexy Fredrik Malmberg chose Millennium after extricating the rights from Warner last spring, putting them on the market with strict progress-to-production provisions in mid-June.

Malmberg will produce with Millennium's Avi Lerner, Boaz Davidson, Joe Gatta and George Furla. Millennium either will fully finance or partner with a distributor. Company aims to start production by next spring.

Malmberg declined to renew another option with Warner when the rights lapsed in spring. He was frustrated that the years of development there had not yielded a production start on the franchise that launched the film career of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The summer success of branded properties like “Spider-Man,” “The Simpsons” and “Transformers” led to a receptive marketplace for Conan. The property already is a globally established brand that has 40 licenses including a top-selling Dark Horse comicbook, an upcoming vidgame for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and the Funcom/Eidos massively multiplayer online role-playing game “Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures.”

Buyers were caught short by Malmberg's deal terms: He was asking $1 million for one-year option, with another $1 million for each year's renewal.

Millennium is in production with the Al Pacino-Robert De Niro film “Righteous Kill” and the Sylvester Stallonevehicle “John Rambo,” but the Conan picture is the most ambitious project it has mounted.

Warner invested seven years, with top-shelf names like Larry and Andy Wachowski, John Milius (who directed the original from a script he co-wrote with Oliver Stone) and Robert Rodriguez all writing drafts. Boaz Yakin penned the last one.

Malmberg and Millennium will start over, and the new version is to be more faithful to Howard's original creation than the Schwarzenegger films.

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