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New Life for Conan Film

The Amazon writing team of Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain has been tapped by Lionsgate to pen the Conan screenplay.

Conan received wider recognition and launched the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger thanks to the 1982 film Conan the Barbarian, written by Oliver Stone and John Milius and produced by Dino De Laurentiis. The sequel, Conan the Destroyer, was far less popular and subsequent attempts to continue the franchise have met with failure.

Now, Lionsgate and Paradox Entertainment are attempting to fast-track the film, hiring on Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain to work on a parallel script alongside the writing team of Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer (Sahara). The budget for the film is expected to reach $100M and will offer an origin of the character truer to the Howard stories than the one offered up by Stone and Milius.

Paradox Entertainment president and CEO Fredrik Malmberg, producing Conan along with Boaz Davidson, Joe Gatta and Avi Lerner of Millennium Films, said:

"Fans expect (these films) to be more true to the source material," Malmberg said. "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."

Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain co-wrote the science fiction action film Outlander, and teamed again to write the action-adventure movie Amazon, an epic tale about the mythological female warriors to which actress Scarlett Johansson has been attached.

No director has been named to helm Conan as of yet. The film is expected to have an R-rating and is tentatively scheduled for a 2009 release date.

"We all want this movie to go into production as soon as possible," said Malmberg. "It's a fast-tracked movie. Lionsgate felt the process was enhanced by having a second team come in and do a script."

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Brent Sprecher

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