Poor Arnold Schwarzenegger can’t catch a break. After announcing he won’t be appearing in The Predator because he wanted a more significant part than the script’s token cameo that was written for him, now the news comes that another update to one of his most classic films has been canceled.
One of the first projects announced when the Governator returned to acting in 2012 was The Legend of Conan, a sequel to 1982’s Conan the Barbarian that first made the actor a superstar. There were numerous updates over the years, with the story set 30 years later and focused on Conan as an old ruler (and ignoring the existing sequel, Conan the Destroyer), and Arnold seemed pretty psyched to make it happen. But screenwriter Chris Morgan, who was producing the film for Universal Pictures, revealed last week in an interview with EW that the project has been scrapped.
“At the end of the day, the studio decided that they weren’t gonna make that. I gotta say, it’s honestly a heartbreak. I love that first movie so much, so much, it’s one of my favorite movies. We had Will Beall do a draft on [the Legend of Conan script]. He killed it. Our take was Conan, 30 years later, a story like the Clint Eastwood Unforgiven. It was so awesome. Ultimately, the budget was big, the studio was not really sure of the title, and the relevance in the marketplace. They ended up letting it go. I think they’re gonna look to do a TV show or something with it. But just to be associated with it, pitch it to Arnold, have him get so excited, there was a moment of magic for me, personally [laughs]. You never know, down the road we may revisit!”
While we’re definitely saddened by the news, it’s not entirely surprising. The 69-year-old Schwarzenegger’s days as a box office draw appear to be over, with none of the seven films he’s starred in since coming out of retirement — not even Terminator: Genisys — managing to make $100 million at the domestic box offie. Then there’s the fact that the Jason Momoa-led Conan reboot in 2011 was a considerable flop, earning just $48 million worldwide on a $90 million budget. So, given audiences’ apparent disinterest in both Schwarzenegger and Conan at the moment, it makes sense that Universal became skittish about spending a ton of money on a Schwarzenegger-led Conan movie.
The silver lining here is that Morgan states that Legend of Conan could move to TV, where it would likely find a greater audience. And if said TV series actually starred Arnold — which is admittedly unlikely — then it could end up being the stuff of legend (no pun intended).