‘Beverly Hills’ to Come Before ‘Conan’
Producer Ari Lerner told The Los Angeles Times that Brett Ratner was the “perfect” choice to direct a new version of Conan the Barbarian.
"He has the passion and feeling for this project — he even wrote a story about Conan when he was 10 years old," Lerner said. "He understands the character; he analyzed the script really well. He knows how to make this a really big movie. I like his childlike enthusiasm–he almost sees these movies as wonderful toys. What can I say, he’s a nice, likable Jewish boy."
He confirmed that although the news broke over the weekend, the director remains unsigned. He has though spoken with the screenwriters who were rushing a new draft to see if his ideas made the script more to his liking.
"We still have a few obstacles," Lerner said. "Brett is only committed if we agree on a budget, on how to do the special effects and exactly where we’d shoot the film." Lerner has a studio in Bulgaria, so he’d like to shoot most of the movie there, with some exterior work in China.
"Let me make this very clear," Ratner told the Times. "I am not doing Conan now. This is totally premature. For now, Conan is only a development deal. I have a deal at Paramount and I’m doing Beverly Hills Cop first, no matter what. Avi shouldn’t be telling you or anyone else in the press what I’m doing."
The story went on to explore how the announcement may have surfaced before contracts were signed. With the American Film Market occurring at the time, Lerner was likely making noise in order to sell foreign distribution rights and raise capitol he’d need for the production.
The film rights to Robert E. Howard’s barbarian hero have bounced around Hollywood since Dino De Laurentiis failed to get a green-light despite five years’ effort at Warner Bros. Paradox Entertainment, a Swedish company, picked up the rights then sold them for $2.5 million to Lerner nearly a year and a half ago.
"Everyone was after it, from New Line to Paramount to Universal," he says. "But we acted quicker. The studios always say they need a committee to discuss the decision and then run the numbers. With us, it’s very simple. I talk to my partner, Danny Dimbort, and then I say yes."
He fully expects Ratner to shoot Beverly Hills Cop 4 first and let development continue on Conan which he’d film next. Meantime, the producer said he wants to find a younger Arnold Schwarzenegger for a 3-4 picture deal.
"I saw Arnold in Las Vegas at the premiere of Rambo," Lerner said. "He said, ‘Wait two years for me — I’ll be coming back.’ But I can’t wait that long." Lerner did offer the Governor $1 million for a cameo.