After years and years of dicking around with the franchise, Warner Bros has lost the rights to Conan, and New Line is swooping in to pick them up. The Warner Bros option ran out a couple of weeks ago and New Line has come up aggressively, trying to score an 18 month option with one extension.
The history of Conan at Warner Bros has been a frustrating one for the last few years. The studio was looking to do something closer to Robert E. Howard’s original stories, and they went through an impressive list of talent trying to accomplish that, including John Milius (whose Conan the King script rules), the Wachowskis and most recently Robert Rodriguez in a last ditch effort to get a movie started before their option ran out.
New Line, meanwhile, has been floundering to find ANYTHING that can fill the Lord of the Rings-sized hole in their slate and income. Ads for The Golden Compass position that film as the heir apparent to the Rings throne, but it’s going to be quite obvious to filmgoers that the movie is nothing like Jackson’s. Conan, on the other hand, would be closer in line to what’s worked in the past, and comes with massive name recognition.
Whatever New Line does with the property (if they get it), they’ll have to go their own way. All the scripts and designs that were dreamed up while Conan lived at Warner Bros will stay there forever, and New Line will start from scratch.