'Conan,' 'Wheel of Time' Get Film Treatment


Conan the Barbarian is back to conquer this generation of moviegoers.

Lionsgate has hired Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain to rework a script for "Conan" after their success penning a script for "Amazon," another heroic fantasy film by Lionsgate that has attached Scarlett Johansson as the lead, according to The Hollywood Reporter. A search is on for directors for both projects.

In the vein of "Batman Begins," Lionsgate hopes to rejuvenate the Conan franchise by going back to the source material, the 1930s pulp stories by Robert E. Howard, to create a $100 million R-rated origin film.

"Fans expect [these types of movies] to be more true to the source material," says CEO and president of Paradox Entertainment Fredrik Malmberg, who will produce the feature with Boaz Davidson, Joe Gatta and Avi Lerner of Millennium Films. "There's no reason there couldn't be a Conan movie every two years. He's almost like Batman: He's a dark hero. He's a hard hero. He has to be badass, but we also have to like him."

The Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is probably the most popular incarnation of the sword-wielding character. He starred in the '80s films "Conan the Barbarian" and "Conan the Destroyer."

In other fantasy news, Variety reports that Universal Pictures has acquired the film rights to the late Robert Jordan's bestselling "The Wheel of Time" high fantasy novel series.

The seven-figure deal gives Rick Selvage and Larry Mondragon of Red Eagle Entertainment -- which published graphic novel adaptations of the books -- access to all 12 books in Jordan's series, beginning with the first book, "The Eye of the World."

Jordan died last year at 58, only having published 11 of his projected 12 books. The final book, however, will hit shelves in Fall 2009, thanks to the efforts of fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson, who will pen the novel based on Jordan's notes and tapes.

In the books, the Creator made The Wheel of Time, which spins the Pattern of the Ages using the lives of men and women as its threads. The evil character Shai'tan and the incarnation of the force for good called The Dragon continually engage in a cyclical fight throughout the ages.

Previously, NBC held the rights to make a miniseries based on "The Eye of the World."

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