NEW YORK — Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to “Conan the Barbarian” in a deal worth mid-six figures against north of $2 million and plans to mount a feature that will be written and directed by John Milius, the director of the original 1982 film at Universal.
“The Matrix” writers-directors Larry and Andy Wachowski will co-create the concept with Milius and are eyeing directing the second unit on the film. They’ll produce with Jon Jashni, Irving Azoff and Richard Alexander, with Stan Lee exec producing and serving as a creative consultant.
Milius, who wrote the original with Oliver Stone, has had conversations with Arnold Schwarzenegger to come back in some capacity, though they are still working out the story and it’s unclear exactly how prominent a role the actor would play.
Early talks with WWF champion grappler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to wield a sword in the pic looks to have gone by the wayside as Johnson committed to a $5.5 million deal with Universal to star in “The Scorpion King,” an action film that is a prequel to “The Mummy 2.”
Although Universal did two “Conan” pics with Schwarzenegger in the 1980s, the rights to the Robert E. Howard-created character were controlled by Stan Lee Media when it purchased Conan Properties in a stock swap.
Stan Lee Media has had a number of suitors for “Conan,” among them Fox, Columbia, Revolution, Dimension, Beacon and Universal.
WB considers the pic a high priority as evinced by the direct involvement of worldwide president Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and execs Jeff Robinov, Aditya Sood and Dan Furie.
The Wachowskis, who have been longtime fans of the pic, will juggle their preproduction involvement with their plans to mount two sequels to “The Matrix,” a process complicated by the threat of strikes next summer by both the Writers and Screen Actors Guilds.
The rights were repped by Joe Gatta and Steve Kravit of the Gersh Agency, with attorney Michael Schenkman repping Jashni, Azoff and Alexander and ICM’s Todd Feldman repping Milius. WMA and manager Lawrence Mattis of Circle of Confusion rep the Wachowskis.