Marcus Nispel to direct ‘Conan’ remake

Nu Image/Millennium bringing back barbarian pic

Marcus Nispel has been set by Nu Image/Millennium Films to direct “Conan,” ending a nine-year development ordeal to reinvent the Robert E. Howard-created barbarian first immortalized onscreen by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1982.

Production on the remake is set to start late this year in Bulgaria and South Africa. Nu Image/Millennium is making the film in a co-production with Lionsgate. Avi Lerner and Joe Gatta are producing with Fredrick Malmberg. Malmberg runs Paradox, the company that holds the rights to “Conan” and the other hero franchises in the Howard library.

The film will be the most financially ambitious ever for Lerner, with a script by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, whose credits include “Sahara” and “Cowboys and Aliens.”

Paradox originally set the project at Warner Bros. but declined to ink a new rights deal after numerous unsuccessful attempts to make it with directors like Larry and Andy Wachowski and Robert Rodriguez. Malmberg then set it with Lerner in a seven-figure deal with strong progress to production stipulations. Lerner flirted with Brett Ratner last year, but the filmmaker could not commit in a timely fashion and Lerner couldn’t wait.

That opened the door for Nispel, who’ll make “Conan” his third redo, after “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Friday the 13th.” For Nispel, “Conan” is a job he has dreamed about since his childhood.

Nispel said he will blend his childhood imaginings of the character with the influence of the famous Conan illustrations by Frank Frazetta, and the influence of such viscerally violent period films as Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto.”

“Conan” maintains a following through such ancillary properties as a Dark Horse comicbook series, a vidgame for Xbox 360 and a Funcom/Eidos multiplayer online role-playing game.

Boaz Davidson, George Furla, Henry Winterstern, Trevor Short and Danny Dimfort are executive producers.

Nispel is repped by CAA.

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