Arnold Speaks on Conan, Sequels, and younger action stars

Arnold’s getting a fair bit of play. Shortly after the MTV interview, IamRogue.com has its own piece, with more details – such as the interesting statement that Universal are interested in doing multiple movies:

While it appeared for a little while there that Terminator 5, directed by Justin Lin, would be the first famous character Arnold would reprise after dabbling in politics, that project doesn’t have the requisite momentum.  Instead, Schwarzenegger will dust off Conan’s sword and go on another adventure across Hyboria as Robert E. Howard‘s pulp hero.  Tentatively titled The Legend of Conan, the new film would act as a successor to John MiliusConan the Barbarian and its less popular sequel Conan the Destroyer.

Schwarzenegger singled out Milius’ 1982 film as a model for the new effort in explaining just how the new Conan came about at Universal, saying,

“Let me just say that a lot of it has to do with timing. That’s what show business and politics have in common. It’s a lot of it is timing, and I think that I would’ve chosen to do Conan already if it would’ve been ready, but the Universal studio just bought the rights to Conan, they have an executive over there that happens to be a big believer in bringing back that character, and Universal was the first one to do the movie with Dino DeLaurentiis, and now they want to be back and do a bunch of Conan movies, but do it high-quality, not as a B-movie, to do it high-quality like the first one was John Milius directed and Dino DeLaurentiis produced and Universal has presented. So they want to go back to that. So that will be ready by sometime this year.”

Despite the invocation of his work, there’s been no indication that Milius will be involved in this new movie.  The driving creative force behind The Legend of Conan is Chris Morgan, the Fast Five screenwriter who created the new story and may or may not be writing the script, depending on his obligation to write the seventh The Fast and the Furious installment.  Morgan is executive producing alongside Fredrick Malmberg.

After some discussion of Triplets and other projects, there’s a brief mention of a certain other action star whose name is frequently brought up in the “who could play Conan/his son” debates:

In 2003, Schwarzenegger made an uncredited appearance in The Rundown, in which he figuratively handed off the action-hero baton to erstwhile The Rock, Dwayne Johnson.  As to the possibility of starring alongside the younger actor, who will be seen shortly in both G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Pain & Gain, Schwarzenegger replied with a laugh,

“I think it would be great for him, for The Rock to play the earlier generation and me the later generation. I’m looking forward to that.”

… OK.

Editorial

Last year, I wrote a piece on The Legend of Conan for my REHupa fanzine “Elephants, Figs, and Lobsters with Wigs,” which ended up being relevant to several topics here, particularly the idea of forming a new Conan franchise around Arnold. To exercise my extremely presumptuous armchair businessman, I presumed that this was a stop-gap for Paradox. It doesn’t fit into their actions for the past decade, where they’ve actively shied from the Universal Conan outside a few deals like the Blu-Ray release and sword replicas. Their goal was to expand Howard’s existing characters and develop new franchises from them: characters they understand, characters they own, characters they control. They don’t control the 1982 Conan nearly as much as they’d like, and they’d likely always have to deal with Universal when it comes to that corner of the franchise.

This, then, was the result of Paradox being backed into a corner, making a deal with the elephant in the room they’d avoided so long. There’s simply no point now in seeking for anything remotely Howardian in the film, for not only would it be unlikely, but counterproductive, since the more Howardian elements in the Ahnold franchise, the more the Ahnold franchise is undermined by the comparison. As such, criticizing the film for its lack of Howardian elements is, at this stage, largely a moot point: why would it be Howardian, when it’s set in the Kurosawa-Ford-Nietzchean parallel universe of John Milius’ concoction? You might as well complain about a film based on the Adam West Batman series for eschewing the grim, gritty tone of the Detective Comics.

I initially thought that The Legend of Conan was a swan song for the Milius Conan, closing the story that began 30 years ago, a curtain call for a 1980s stalwart, the grand finale of an action movie legend. And frankly, it didn’t seem like it could be any other way: depressing as it is, Arnold Schwarzenegger is in his sixties, and he cannot be the big badass action hero forever. I believe iconic literary characters like the original Conan are too great to be tied to any single actor, but the fact remains that the version of Conan created by Stone & Milius is inextricable from Arnold Schwarzenegger, because the part was effectively tailor-made for him. There is no point in a Milius-Conan movie without Arnold. There simply didn’t seem to be any cinematic future in The Legend of Conan, for without Arnold, what could be done with the franchise? If Universal is indeed considering making multiple Conan films, what could they be about?

There are possibilities, of course, but none of them are remotely satisfying to me. The obvious one is that they will all star Arnold in his later years. The problem here is that films with the high quality Arnold and company are suggesting take quite a while to make, and Arnold doesn’t have much time on the clock: injuries, operations and health problems are already affecting him, and while it’s certainly possible he could be as spry in his old age as Jack Palance was in his ’80s, it would nonetheless relegate him into a supporting role in his own series. Alternately, perhaps they want to go have it both ways: a new, younger Conan, but this time based on the 1980s film. A prequel starring Roland Kickinger, bridging the gap between Barbarian and Legend? Jason Momoa had a bad enough time of people erroneously suggesting he was trying to fill Schwarzenegger’s shoes or take over “his” role, how bad would it be for a new Conan who is explicitly replacing Schwarzenegger?

Another possibility is that Conan’s son – and it will be a son, Hollywood isn’t imaginative enough to cast Antje Traue or Gina Carano as Conan’s daughter – will carry on the adventures in the Hyborian Age in a spinoff franchise. That’s even worse, as it not only has no Arnold, but no Conan: assuming that Kon or Conn or whatever he’s called is charismatic and compelling enough to justify a film based on his exploits, there’s still a pretty significant gulf between a character based on one of the most influential and enduring characters in 20th Century fantasy fiction, and a character with none of that cultural resonance.

But why are Universal looking for a movie franchise now? You’d think after the 2011 film’s returns that the Conan franchise was going to be shelved for a long time. Yet not only are they apparently looking for one film, they’re looking to start a new series. Perhaps they’re trying to combine the successes of The Lord of the Rings and A Game of Thrones, to make a big-budgeted adult fantasy film series that can be farmed yearly. Given The Hobbit being bloated into three two-hour-plus films and the final books in The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Twilight being split in two parts, this seems a possibility. But then, all those properties are based on pre-existing source material: I sincerely doubt Universal is going to give us The Hour of the Dragon, Part One in 2015 and concluded the next year.

The Legend of Conan seems to be, from my limited perspective, a means to an end for Paradox, but a franchise for Universal. It’ll hopefully get them some money and drum up interest in REH and his characters, and put them in a position to boost their own projects like Kull, Dark Agnes, Vultures, Bran Mak Morn and the Solomon Kane sequel they’re jonesing for. Knowing our luck, of course, it’ll probably end up a massive success, with Paradox revitalizing the product accordingly: phoned-in novelizations and tie-ins will clutter the shelves alongside the Del Rey Howards; the Dark Horse Conan the Barbarian and King Conan are cancelled due to poor sales, and relaunched as The Legend of Conan, abandoning Howard and based entirely on the films; The Legend of Conan: The Video Game will be bombarded upon game shelves after four months of development to lukewarm reviews despite twice the budget’s worth of advertising. Maybe we’ll even get a bone thrown to us with The Legend of Conan: The Stories That Inspired The Film, collecting the three King Conan stories and whatever else they inevitably mine for the script.

As ever, I look on this as an opportunity to further promote Howard and the original Conan, but in an inclusive sort of way. To return to the Batman comparison: I like the Adam West show. I also like the comics. Crom help me, I even like Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which makes the ‘60s show look like The Dark Knight Returns. The trick is to treat them as their own separate beings in their own separate universes. There’s still a lot of headway to make there, since people still seem to think that Milius’ Conan and Howard’s Conan can possibly be the same person. I came across someone on IMDB who claimed exactly that, and suggested Howard fans didn’t seem to understand that Milius’ Conan was supposed to be Conan before he “became” Howard’s Conan: when I brought up the matter of how that could be when several Conan stories happened at the same time Konahn was pushing the Wheel of Pain, he didn’t have an answer for me.

It just makes things easier to say Arnold is the Adam West of Conan.

Arnold Schwarzenegger discusses The Legend of Conan

Been a bit quiet again, but recently, MTV caught up with Arnold Schwarzenegger to discuss The Legend of Conan:

Now that Arnold Schwarzenegger is finished with his political career as the Governor of California, he’s taken a place back in movie-making land, i.e., the place where we first got to know him and love him as the hulky action star he is. His first leading role is in “The Last Stand,” followed by a slew of other action-oriented projects, one of which is his return to the comic book character he made famous in the ’80s: Conan the Barbarian.

When MTV News caught up with Schwarzenegger (alongside co-star Johnny Knoxville) recently during a press day for “Last Stand,” we asked him for an update on the plans for the third film, “The Legend of Conan.”

“I’m excited [about it] because I’ve been hyping the idea to Universal Studios for quite some time,” Schwarzenegger said. “The important thing with the ‘Conan’ project is to make it into an A-movie that they treat it like a ’300′ or any of those great movies, rather than a B-movie where they hack a few heads off, a few limbs off and run around with a sword.”

He went on to say that he wants to deliver a superior action film for the modern educated audiences who want to see smart and well-made action movies.

“The audience and the fans are very sophisticated. They’ve seen all the ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Superman’ and ‘Iron Man’ [movies] and the ‘Expendables’ as regular action movies. They’ve seen it all,” Schwarzenegger said. “So when they see a ‘Conan’ movie coming, they demand a spectacle. That’s what we tried to do with ‘Last Stand’ — to give them the car chases, cars going 200 mph, racing through cornfields, crazy stuff you haven’t seen before. You have to give them great entertainment.”

Finally, in thinking about all the Schwarzenegger star vehicles that are supposedly being brought to life, via revamped films and/or sequels, we asked the man behind them all which movie character he most wants to revisit among the “Terminator” franchise, “Conan” and “Triplets.”

“I think all three of them — ‘Terminator,’ ‘Conan’ and ‘Triplets,’ the sequel to ‘Twins’ — I think all three of those are potentially huge movies and could be successful,” he admitted. “The key thing is that they’re written well they’re directed by great directors, hopefully for one of those films I can get Johnny back.”

Knoxville, who had been listening intently to his “Last Stand” co-star, nodded in agreement. “I would love it.”

There’s also a video, but because of ludicrous regional encoding laws that the world’s media would do well to abolish, I can’t post it, what with being a Brit and all.

Irritation at reporter Kara Warner’s choice of words aside (“the comic book character he made famous?” It’s 2013, Kara, you have Google) it’s good to hear that Arnold is wanting to make this something other than just another action movie, particularly citing the sophistication of modern audiences. While nobody ever went broke underestimating the audience’s intelligence, I’d like to think the recent trend of more intelligent blockbusters would continue. Then again, he did mention 300

I won’t bore you with my reaction to the possibility of Johnny Knoxville in a Conan film – even an Ahnold Conan film – although I will post this visual interpretation of my feelings on the matter.

Chris Morgan discusses The Legend of Conan

It’s been a month since the initial announcement, and things have been quiet. Hero Complex has a few words from Chris Morgan on The Legend of Conan:

When screenwriter-producer Chris Morgan met with Arnold Schwarzenegger this fall to pitch him a proposed sequel to “Conan the Barbarian,” the Governator required convincing on one matter above all others – and it had nothing to do with wearing a furry codpiece.

At a time when Schwarzenegger, 65, is attempting to reclaim his throne in Hollywood after years stalking Sacramento’s corridors of power, why should he return to Conan? Why should he follow in his own footsteps to the pre-“Terminator” role that shot him to stardom?

“To put yourself out there in your 60s? As Conan the Barbarian? I could see why he’d hesitate,” Morgan said. “You’re really putting yourself out there.”

Click after the jump to read more.

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The Legend of Conan: Hopes and Dreams

Well, I’m back.

Having been the castellan of the Conan Movie Blog for a long time, and being somewhat burned out, I was sure I wouldn’t be back, at least not so soon. But lo, Universal and Paradox have come to an agreement, and are looking to release The Legend of Conan for 2014. The 2011 film with Jason Momoa and Conan the Destroyer are being ignored: this is a sequel to Conan the Barbarian and only Conan the Barbarian. I have my reservations, but I refuse to just ignore this. As with the 2011 film, whatever one thinks of the final product, the fact of the matter is Robert E. Howard’s name will be up on the silver screen, and this is a great opportunity to grasp.

So while Waldgeist and myself will work together on keeping everyone updated, for my part, I doubt we’ll be seeing anything near the rigour and density of the news and articles for last time. We’ll certainly keep you all up to date with links, and perhaps a few editorials, but don’t expect any more 20,000 word critiques. This is a continuation of the 1982 Conan: it doesn’t even pretend to be Howard’s Conan in any way except inspiration, so questions of its fidelity to Howard’s work are moot. With the 2011 film, it was supposed to be a fresh start, and it was imperative to separate what was Howard and what wasn’t so people understood what was what. The job is somewhat more difficult considering 1982′s Conan the Barbarian makes the 2011 film look like The Maltese Falcon in terms of fidelity to the source material, and is in fact almost by definition not an adaptation of Howard’s work so much as a sequel to a distinct and separate story and universe.

So what’s happening?

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Conan is dead. Long live Conan.

It feels like it was yesterday when we left the cinema wondering, if we would ever see another Conan film again. While Momoa as Conan did a pretty good job, the vehicle he was transported in left most of the movie goers wanting. The movie was unsuccessful and a sequel was not to be expected. The rights fell back to Paradox.

A couple of days ago a rumour started circling around. The former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told an interviewer, that he would be pursuing the Conan role again, a role that was dear to his heart, since it kickstarted his world fame as a movie star in Hollywood. Heated discussions abound in the Robert E. Howard fan circles if this was a good thing, a bad thing, disastrous or maybe even a chance.

The uncertainty is over. It is official: Arnold Schwarzenegger will again slip into the tight pants of Conan the Cimmerian, a hero invented in the 1930′s by american author Robert E. Howard. This time around it will tell the story of Conan as the aged king.

“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.”

Many of the details that are connected to the movie are still uncertain. One of the producers could very well be the writer of the movie, since he – Chris Morgan, writer of Fast and the Furious – is not only passionate about producing the epic, but also has a heightened interest in the franchise itself and considers it his dream project. It remains to be seen how many cues the movie will take from Robert E. Howard in comparison to the 1981 movie, which deviated from the original character, world and story quite a bit.

We will keep you posted on the details of the project right here.

Dark Horse’s Conan Art Contest

Thanks to Zach Davisson for the heads-up on the cover art contest:

Conan the Barbarian returns in the most beloved tale of his career next month when Conan the Barbarian #1 by Brian Wood and art by Becky Cloonan hits shelves, and we want you, with a sword in hand–or pencil or paintbrush–to draw, paint, or collage a Conan Cover to rival all Covers. Stoke up the savage fire, Amp up the action shot and bring Conan to life in your own hand.  

We want you to Create a Conan cover like we’ve never seen before.  Think hard, get some inspiration and bring Conan to life! Send us your entry at Contests [at] darkhorse [dot] com. 

If your Conan Cover is the strongest, manliest, sexiest, and most savage piece we recieve we will print your art in the back of an upcoming issue of Conan the Barbarian. If you think you’ve got what it takes to bring Conan to life, show us. Never bare a weapon unless you intend to use it. Ladies and Gentleman, show us what you’ve got.

All Entries are due upon the Jan 31st, 11:59pm Deadline. We’ll choose a winner on Feb. 1st, 2012 and announce it on this blog post within several days after. And look for an Album on our Facebook Page of all entries. 

Winner will receive a complimentary copy the issue with their artwork as well as The Savage Sword of Conan Vol. 9 TPB, Conan vol 10: Iron Shadows in the Moon TPB , Conan Vol. 9 Free Companions TPB and a Conan Limited Edition Action Figure.
The fine print: No purchase necessary. One online entry per person (one e-mail address per person/address). You must be eighteen years of age or older to enter. Contest entries only accepted if submitted by midnight (PDT), Jan 31st, 2012. Winner will be selected based upon the quality of submitted art (as determined at Dark Horse’s sole discretion) from all applicable entries and will be notified by February 1, 2012. Entry becomes the property of Dark Horse upon receipt. Entry constitutes agreement by winners to be publicized and permission to use each winner’s name for the purposes of promotion of the Contest without further compensation. Contest void where prohibited. Odds of winning dependent on number of entrants.

(Don’t forget to read the fine print!)

Cromrades, this could be an excellent opportunity to show your stuff. But if you’ll endulge me…

There’s a lot of great Conan art out there, no question. Be it the inimitable Frazetta or a youngster on DeviantArt, you can find some true quality artwork out there. However, as with any subject, there tends to be a great repitition of themes. Conan will usually be either fighting, or posing contemplatively; he will be clad in a fur loincloth, Greco-Romanesque regalia, or some Heavy Metal-style partial armour. Women will usually be clutching – or be clutched by – Conan, lounging around seductively, or cowering in fright; they will almost always be near-nude. Any other figures will either be half-naked savages in a chaotic throng, soldiers of the Ancient World, or a horde of beast-men. The monster, of course, will be apish, serpentine, cthulhoid or draconian, and Conan will always face it heroically.

Wouldn’t it be nice to try something different? Conan is a man of gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, a man who’s experienced stark terror: let’s see those emotions in action. Dress him in something different – eastern hillman garb, desert nomad attire, mercenary armour, pirate regalia. Depict a female who isn’t fawning or lounging or half-naked. Draw something other than an action scene. Maybe even pick a scene directly from the stories. There was more to the Conan stories than the action, sex and violence, and it would be awesome to see more of that in evidence.

Or just do another picture of Conan with a girl and a monster, they seem to go down well. If you want to stick to action scenes – it’s what Howard did best, after all – then give it all you have.

Glenn Lord, The Greatest Howard Fan, 1931-2011

I haven’t posted much on the blog due to my moratorium, but I feel that this news is important to anyone who calls themselves a Conan fan. The news has come that Glenn Lord has died.

If you know who Glenn Lord is, then you know no amount of words can really convey how important he was to Robert E. Howard’s legacy. If you don’t know who Glenn Lord is, then his Wikipedia page (which was composed by Howard scholar Lee Breakiron) will show an inkling of just how vast his influence and impact was:

A Korean vet and a paper warehouse manager by trade, he discovered Howard through Skull-Face and Others (1946) around 1951. He sought out earlier publications with REH’s work, most notably the pulp magazines of the 1920s and 1930s. Starting in 1956, he scoured the country for all REH stories, poems, and letters. Over the course of his life he has amassed the world’s largest collection of such publications and original manuscripts (actually typescripts).

Lord became literary agent for the Howard heirs around March, 1965, and served as such for 28 and a half years. In 1965, he tracked down the contents of Robert E. Howard’s famous storage trunk; the contents of which were then owned by pulp writer and Howard friend E. Hoffmann “Ed” Price. The contents consisted of tens of thousands of pages typed by Howard, including hundreds of unpublished stories, poems, and fragments. Using the contents of the trunk as well as his vast collection of previously published REH materials, Lord provided the source text for almost every published Howard work appearing in books, magazines, or chapbooks from 1965 through 1997, including collections of REH letters. Lord also provided introductions, afterwords, or commentary for dozens of REH books.

Tirelessly promoting Howard’s stories, Lord secured their publication in any promising venue, leading directly to the Howard Boom of the 1970s. This included books by Ace, Arkham House, Avon, Baen, Ballantine, Bantam, Barnes & Noble Books, Baronet, Berkley, Beagle, Belmont, Bonanza, Carroll & Graff, Centaur, Century-Hutchinson, Chelsea House, Chaosium, DAW, Dell, Delta, Dodd-Mead, Dorset, Doubleday, Fawcett Gold Medal, FAX, Fedogan & Bremer, Fictioneer, Five Star, Gollancz, Grafton, Gramercy, Donald M. Grant, Grossett & Dunlap, Harper Collins, Jove, Kaye & Ward, Lancer, Leisure, MacFadden, Manor, Mayflower, Meys, Morning Star Press, New English Library, Neville Spearman, Orbit, Oxford University Press, Pan, Panther, Prentice-Hall, Putnam, Pyramid, REH Foundation Press, Robinson, Ryerson, Science Fiction Book Club, Sidgwick & Jackson, Signet, Sphere, Taplinger, TOR, Tower, Underwood-Miller, University of Nebraska Press, Walker & Co., Warner Books, WH Allen, Xanadu and Zebra; periodicals such as Amazing Science Fiction Stories, Amazing Stories, Ariel, Chacal, Coven 13/Witchcraft & Sorcery, Different Worlds, Fantastic Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories/Fantastic Stories of Imagination, Fantasy Book, Fantasy Commentator, Fantasy Crossroads, Fantasy Crosswinds, Fantasy Tales, The Haunt of Horror, Heavy Metal, Lost Fantasies, Magazine of Horror, Pulp Review, The Riverside Quarterly, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, Spaceway Science Fiction, Startling Mystery Stories, Sword and Sorcery, Trumpet, Weird Tales, Weirdbook, The West, White Wolf Magazine, Worlds of Fantasy, Xenophile, and Zane Grey Western Magazine; and several series of Marvel comic books and magazines. In many cases, he was also the uncredited editor of the published version of the REH works. And this is not counting the literally hundreds of books and magazines in non-English languages to which he supplied texts, including Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and Yugoslavian, nor the hundreds of amateur publications.

In the fall of 1977, he arranged with Berkley Medallion to put out three Conan paper- and hardbacks of Conan stories edited by Karl Edward Wagner, the first Conan series without any posthumous revisions and pastiches, which previous collections had in excess.

Lord published a few REH collections on his own, such as the periodical The Howard Collector #1-18 and the chapbook Etchings in Ivory. In The Howard Collector, from 1961 to 1973, Lord featured previously unpublished (or very rare) pieces by Howard, letters by REH and those who knew him, indices of poems and stories, reprints of articles related to Howard, and news about upcoming publications and other events. Thereafter, he published similar material in fanzines of the Robert E. Howard United Press Association, the Hyperborian League, and the Esoteric Order of Dagon (E.O.D. — an amateur press association primarily concerned with the writings of Howard Phillips Lovecraft).

An early admirer of Howard’s poetry, Lord published the first Howard poetry collection Always Comes Evening (1957) through famed Arkham House, subsidizing the costs of the printing himself. Later, he was instrumental in the publication of the Howard verse collections Etchings in Ivory (1968), Singers in the Shadows (1970), Echoes from an Iron Harp (1972), The Road to Rome (1972), Verses in Ebony (1975), Night Images (1976), Shadows of Dreams (1989), and A Rhyme of Salem Town and Other Poems (2007).

He published the first comprehensive bibliography of Howard, complete through 1973, in his The Last Celt: A Bio–Bibliography of Robert Ervin Howard (1976), a bible for REH scholars and collectors. The book also contains biographical and autobiographical material about Howard, as well as letters, story synopses and fragments, ephemera, covers illustrating REH stories, and photographs. Lord wrote many articles on Howard (e.g. in The Dark Barbarian). Lord contributed much information to the latest bibliography, The Neverending Hunt (2006, 2008), by Paul Herman and the online bibliography Howardworks.

When Conan Properties was incorporated in 1978 to establish a single entity to deal with Hollywood in negotiations that led to the two Conan movies, Lord served as a corporate director.

Lord has befriended, assisted, advised, and mentored two generations of Howard fans, scholars, and editors, providing copies of his typescripts, letters, and vast knowledge to many of them. For his dedication, achievements, and scholarship, Lord received the World Fantasy Convention Award in 1978 and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the professional fanzine, The Cimmerian, in 2005. The next year, he was Guest of Honor at the Centennial Robert E. Howard Days festival in Howard’s hometown of Cross Plains, Texas, and in 2007 was GoH at PulpCon 36 in Dayton, Ohio. He is currently Director Emeritus of the Robert E. Howard Foundation.

If you are a fan of Robert E. Howard, Conan, or any of his creations, then you owe Glenn Lord your thanks. If you picked up a Lancer or Sphere or Berkeley in the Howard Boom of the ’60s and ’70s, you can thank Glenn Lord for getting the stories printed across dozens of publishers. If you tore through an issue of Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian, you can thank Glenn Lord for providing Roy Thomas with indespensible advice and assistance, and even then-unpublished stories for adaptation. If you watched Conan the Barbarian in 1982, you can thank Glenn Lord for negotiating the deal to make and film it. If you’ve enjoyed anything related to Kull, Solomon Kane, or the other creations of the Man from Cross Plains, then you owe Glenn Lord for promoting all of Howard’s work beyond just Conan. If you’ve read any scholarly material on Howard or his creations, be it a critical anthology or a wiki site, you can thank Glenn Lord for being the man to start it all.

No one in 80 years has done more for Howard and his creations than Glenn Lord.

The Filmgoer’s Guide to Conan the Barbarian (2011) Abridged

Those who’ve followed my personal blog will know I’ve been producing a fairly lengthy series discussing the relation of John Milius’ Conan the Barbarian to the original Robert E. Howard stories, patterned after the Encyclopedia of Arda’s Filmgoer’s Guides to the Lord of the Rings film adaptations. It seems inevitable, then, that I would produce another one for the upcoming film. This won’t be as lengthy or detailed as the Filmgoer’s Guide ’82, and will stick to bullet points and quotes. A more in-depth edition of the Filmgoer’s Guide will likely follow in due course.

As with the Filmgoer’s Guide ’82, this is not intended to denigrate or criticize the film’s cinematic merits, but simply to serve as a guide. It isn’t about saying the film is bad, just that it’s different. For opinions on the film’s quality, one can go to the multitude of excellent and insightful reviews across the internet, or my review and critique, but this is strictly an impartial assessment – save for a few scathing remarks which I’ve retained for my own sanity, mostly in the film references section.

Anyone with any suggestions/corrections/observations, please let me know in the comments.

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The Conan cast discuss the film at New York Comic Con

Jason Momoa was among the stars attending the New York Comic Con, and here’s a video of the panel, with Rose McGowan and Stephen Lang. They discuss things like fandom interaction, comparisons with San Diego Comic Con, ideal roles, and Conan being a “family film” (tongue-in-cheek, of course). I can’t embed the video, so you’ll have to click the link, sadly.

There was more from the panel not recorded in the video, as FilmBuffOnline also has information:

Although it got trashed by the critics (scoring a 23% at Rotten Tomatoes) audiences who came out to see this past summer’s fantasy adventure Conan The Barbarian seemed to enjoy the film, giving it a “B minus” CinemaScore. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough audiences showing up to see the film to hit any higher than fourth place at the box office its opening weekend.

This weekend at New York Comic Con, the film’s three stars Jason Momoa, Rose McGowan and Stephen Lang appeared at a panel to discuss the film. Invariably, the subject of the film’s poor box office and the chance of a sequel came was brought up. Momoa, who had stated when he was doing promotion for the film that he had written a story for a possible sequel, stated that there was little possibility that a sequel would happen.

“I haven’t heard a word from anyone and it’s kind of sad because I feel a little cheated myself because we really busted our asses to make it amazing for the fans. I was a fan and I think we really hit it but to tell you the truth a lot of people didn’t go see it so I doubt that they’ll make a sequel. I would love it, but there would be less money there and [a sequel] is something that I would want to be bigger and better.”

McGowan jumped in to add that a fate of a movie can often be outside the control of its cast and crew, stating that the film’s R rating may have kept some audiences away while the PG-13 rated horror film Fright Night, which opened the same day, further siphoned off potential ticket buyers.

“People don’t understand behind the scenes stuff.  Lionsgate and Millennium, the people behind [the movie], to an extent did a really good job. But the entire distribution team at Lionsgate just got replaced. Also the second weekend Hurricane Irene happened and two-thirds of the country was shut down so it was just bad luck essentially.”

McGowan went on to draw an analogy as to what it was like to make a film she was proud of only to have it fail at the box office. “It’s essentially like giving birth to this really great baby, you hand it to the nurse and it falls out of her hands and flies out the window,” she said.

“They dropped my baby?” questioned Momoa after the laughter in response to McGowan’s statement died down.

“They did!” she replied. “They drop kicked it!”

Lang added that he has participated in a number films that weren’t successful right away but still went on to find their audiences. He also stated that he was disappointed that he wouldn’t get to see more of his castmate Momoa continue to explore the character of Conan in future films.

“It’s really easy to do a postmortem on the thing. I think that the R didn’t help the business of the film one bit. Maybe it was necessary for the movie. I see that. I think Rose says it pretty well that the distribution didn’t work out quite it should have. I sure wish this one had done much better than it did. I think it deserved a number of sequels and I would like to see Jason track that character for a long time.”

While my thoughts on the film’s marketing and quality are out there, I wouldn’t rule out Hurricane Irene as a contributing factor to its poor financial returns, what with over a thousand cinemas being closed over the end of the second weekend.  Ah well.

Stan Lee Media Inc. are STILL at it…

In what is looking increasingly like a screwball comedy, Hollywood Reporter reports (ahem) that Stan Lee Media Inc. are still trying to get Conan.

In August, just as Conan the Barbarian 3D was released, Stan Lee Media Inc. filed a lawsuit in an effort to reclaim ownership on the fictional Conan character. The move by SLMI, which was founded by comic book legend Stan Lee but now operates independently, is part of a larger campaign to put back the pieces from a turbulent bankruptcy from nearly a decade ago.

SLMI believes that finally having a court-recognized board of directors will give it the necessary standing to pursue reclamation of its intellectual property, but the current owners of the Conan character say it’s too late.

SLMI went into bankruptcy in 2001 and soon thereafter, Stan Lee resolved differences with Marvel, bringing over rights to characters including Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, X-Men, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Thor, and more.

As SLMI continues its fight against Lee and Marvel in an attempt to convince judges that rights to these characters were unlawfully transferred, SLMI also is seeking to regain additional turf in a separate lawsuit against Conan Sales Co., Paradox Entertainment, and others who aided the allegedly improper transfer of Conan in 2002.

Back then, a bankruptcy judge stopped transfer of SLMI assets, but allowed Conan Sales Co. to reclaim the character it once held per a “Settlement Approval Order.” Now, in the current lawsuit, SLMI says the judge’s order should be declared void because 1,800 SLMI shareholders were not provided sufficient notice.

Last week, the defendants moved to dismiss the lawsuit on a variety of points, but especially because the complaint was served on an “untimely” basis.

The motion to dismiss says that SLMI had an opportunity to challenge the order during the bankruptcy process and failed to do so. The defendants argue that the Bankruptcy Code doesn’t require notices to shareholders, and that the bankruptcy judge had found a notice of a hearing to be sufficient.

In order for SLMI to win, the defendants say that their adversary needs to show that a fraud on the court was perpetrated, and nothing in SLMI’s “vague” allegations meet that standard, they say.

Instead, the defendants believe that the lawsuit to reclaim Conan upon the film’s release was an “ambush” that was “intended to, and did, embarrass” defendants at a “very important time.”

A dismissal of the complaint is requested because no substantive allegations are alleged and because relief would cause the defendants, who have spent nearly a decade trying to revitalize the Conan character, “substantial undue prejudice.”

Conan the Barbarian 3D wasn’t exactly a hit, grossing less than $50 million worldwide on a reported budget of $90 million. But a good deal of ancillary revenue and future derivative works could be at stake, and of course, SLMI probably hopes to demonstrate it has regained its feet in the midst of legal battles over other characters.

Mother of Crom…

Editorial

This “news” is so irrelevant I feel redundant actually posting it on the blog, but for some unfathomable reason, sites all over the internet have been passing this non-story along. Why do I consider this a non-story? Because Stan Lee Media Inc have been making a small saga out of their legal issues, none of which have really amounted to anything productive for them. Stan Lee Media have sued companies an individuals from Marvel to Stan Lee himself. The fact that they announced their plans to sue Paradox on the very same day of the film’s release suggests to me that this is nothing to do with an actual legal dispute (since they have zero legal ground to stand on) and everything to do with SLMI trying to get attention for itself. After all, if they were really interested in getting Conan back, why didn’t they do so back when Dark Horse was publishing the successful Truman-Nord Conan series, or when Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures was released, or even when the 2011 film was officially announced back in 2007? Because, good reader, Stan Lee Media Inc. is nothing short of a haemorrhoid on the fundament of the cultural landscape.

Some might think that SLMI getting control of Conan would be a good thing, that Paradox have been mishandling the license (despite actively facilitating the publication of pure Howard texts, as well as spearheading new products and merchandise that has proven much more successful than the film thus far) and that new owners are the only way forward. They might also think that the company is affiliated with Marvel, and seeing the success of the Marvel Studio movies, consider it a great idea. However, one must remember that SLMI has nothing to do with either Stan Lee or Marvel, and that SLMI’s past projects aren’t exactly the talk of the town. Be careful what you wish for.

To recap:

  • Stan Lee Media Inc. bought Conan Properties Inc. in November 2000
  • Stan Lee Media Inc. filed for bankruptcy in December 2000
  • Any assignment of rights to Stan Lee Media Inc. is terminated in 2001, on account of bankruptcy
  • Said rights were transferred to various other hands
  • Stan Lee Media Inc. thus had the Conan rights for a matter of weeks, producing no new merchandise or material before going bankrupt
  • Paradox Entertainment bought Conan Properties Inc, in 2002
  • Paradox Entertainment acquires 85% of the Robert E. Howard estate in 2006
  • Stan Lee Media Inc. decides to sue Stan Lee in 2011
  • Stan Lee and Marvel have nothing to do with Stan Lee Media Inc.
  • Stan Lee Media Inc. is a sleazy, contemptible parasite of a company which has nothing better to do than to sue companies for properties it has lost the rights to and never actually did anything with in the first place

OK? I invite anyone more versed in legalese to correct any mistakes, but from what I can see, Stan Lee Media Inc. have no legal leg to stand on, and the only thing they’re entitled to is to be an annoyance.

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