Exclusive Conan Movie Interview with Fredrik Malmberg
The hype for the release of
style="font-style: italic;">Age of Conan:
Hyborian Adventures was enormous, and at Ten Ton
saw a huge influx of new faces as the game neared its scheduled
date. Over the last few years, the popularity of Conan has continued to
rise as Dark Horse released a new comic book series, a new set of
novels based on the Age
of Conan mythos was released, and a single player Conan
game hit stores. But the one thing that hasn't occurred as of yet is
the release of a brand new Conan film. As enormous fans of the
franchise, the Ten Ton Hammer staff took some time to track down
Fredrik Malmberg, the president and CEO of Paradox Entertainment (the
company that controls the rights to the Conan Properties) and talked
with Fredrik about the latest attempt at a Conan movie and how it might
be tied in with the Age
of Conan MMORPG.
Malmberg, President and CEO of Paradox Entertainment
Ten Ton Hammer: Conan
comics and games have seen a great resurgence in recent years, is this
what lead to the property now being re-introduced on film?
In part, yes. Although “Conan” is such an iconic
character it was more a matter of time before it would be back on the
big screen, I think the comeback in comics, videogames and collectibles
proves to the film community that we (Paradox) know what makes fans
tick about the character and they now listen to us more.
Ten Ton Hammer: In
articles about the film, it has been stressed that staying true to the
Robert E. Howard material is critical, how do the writers plan on
adapting his work for both true fans and a larger audience?
Very good question. My team worked closely with the writers throughout
the process, which has been more than a year now. It is critical that
we reach a bigger audience than the existing fanbase to justify the
budget, and yet we are dealing with an R-rated badass hero with not all
politically correct values. New fans need to understand what made Conan
who he is, so we focused on the character traits that Howard gave us
and hope that this will shine through.
Establishing the world is also important so that it’s obvious
that this is but the first in many movies about Conan. But to answer
your question, Josh Oppenheimer and Tom Donnelly were very well versed,
had read all the REH stories, knew the comics, and got in with the
latest Dark Horse adaptations. We sat down and played the games with
them and they had all the Funcom style="font-style: italic;">Age of Conan
visuals in front of them as well. In fact, Josh made a movie in college
which was a Conan spoof. I think they nailed it.
Conan film has nothing to do with Schwarzenegger's Conan.
Ten Ton Hammer: How will
the movie differ from the Schwarzenegger film? Will it be set up as a
Yes, this is the first in a series of films. It has nothing to do with
the 80’s film continuity-wise; we’re starting from
Ten Ton Hammer: Casting
Conan is a real challenge, as he is not just some muscle bound brute in
the stories. What traits would you look for in an actor who could
possibly play this part?
Errrr... acting capabilities? What I mean is first and foremost, [we
look for] a good actor. Second, this needs to be somebody who
understands Conan’s character. Preferrably, with a
personal depth. Physical presence, a big guy but in my mind but not a
bodybuilder. Someone with a rugby-player physique, you know?
Ultimately, this is a director 's choice because the chemistry must
work between them.
Ten Ton Hammer: Will
Howard’s themes of nature and human will against civilization
and corruption be outlined in the film?
Absolutely. We will try to stress pivotal themes such as this to show
what sets him apart from superheroes. Just imagine how Conan would deal
with the problems on Wall Street today.
Ten Ton Hammer: What
artistic style can we expect in the film? With recent achievements like
Frank Miller’s 300,
will we see a sweeping landscape for Conan’s backdrop and
will Frank Frazetta’s influence be seen?
Frank has influenced a generation of fans and every director I met
always brought up his art in their pitches. The world is so much more
than that though, and I think Funcom did a fantastic job in style="font-style: italic;">Age of Conan. I am
doing everything in my power to involve their art director, Didrik
Tollefsen, into the film project because I think the six years of
thought he and his team put into the visuals really pop on the screen.
In fact, I talked with the WETA Workshop guys and showed his stuff and
they said it was on par with what they do.
film is hoping to announce their director in January.
Ten Ton Hammer:
Pre-production is around the corner, what stage are you in now with the
project? There has been a lot of talk on finding the right director,
has a decision been made? How close are you? What can we expect in
terms of schedule, will the film be set for 2010?
are happy with where the script is, always polishing until the final
shoot of course. We are hoping to announce our director in January, and
we have budgeted the script and looked at locations for shooting. The
majority will be done in Bulgaria and some in China, and the film start
date is set for June for a summer 2010 release.
Ten Ton Hammer: Being in
charge of Conan Properties, what is your personal favorite thing about
the Conan works?
Fredrik: That’s a broad
question....”thing” huh? Probably that every time I
pick up a Howard short story, I am stunned with how fresh and relevant
it still feels. I like how simple Conan’s choices are and his
moral fiber. Wouldn’t we all want to be like him? Yet, like
someone said before, “I am not sure I would want him as a
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