'Rings' success fuels development of new franchise

In the French producer/distributor’s most ambitious project to date, Samuel Hadida and the U.K. media company Wandering Star are developing the $55 million “Solomon Kane,” an action blockbuster adapted from a cult book by the author behind “Conan the Barbarian.”

Cash rich from the success of “Lord of the Rings,” the producer of Christophe Gans’ Gallic actioner “Brotherhood of the Wolf” is bidding to turn “Solomon” into the next action hero franchise.

He’s currently casting around for an A-list director and star ready to put the pic into production next year. Hadida’s distribution company Metropolitan will release it in France in 2005.

“Conan was a hero of the ’80s and ’90s,” says Samuel Hadida. “Today there is a new dimension because of special effects. Solomon King, an avenger who fights the forces of evil, fits in with this world.”

The film is a 50-50 co-production between Hadida’s Davis Films and Paul and Michael Berrow and Marcelo Anciano’s rights and production company Wandering Star. The co-production partners say they have the capacity to raise the finance themselves, although distributors or an international sales agent could board the project at a later stage.

Paul and Michael Berrow are the former managers of pop bands like Duran Duran, who later sold their company to Thorn EMI.

Wandering Star has interests in publishing and multi-media and holds the rights to Robert E Howard’s catalog of 20s and 30s pulp fiction books including “The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane.” The “Solomon” book will be re-released by Random House in a new paperback edition next spring.

“When we want the film to open we want to have an environment, like with ‘Lord of the Rings,’” says Hadida.

The action in “Solomon” takes place in North America in the 1700s. In the script being penned by David Jung and Steve Dandois, hero Kane takes on deadly human forces as he seeks revenge against the sorcerer who destroyed his family.

Following the box office success of “Lord of the Rings,” which his company Metropolitan distributed in France, Hadida has launched a series of new productions, including the in-production “The Bridge of San Luis Rey.” “Solomon Kane” is the fifth, and biggest project.

Says Hadida: “We want to make this a rip roaring, epic story.”

Hadida and the partners in Wandering Star were brought together by CAA’s John Ptak.

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