Since the dawn of time there have been the Immortals. They were with you then and they are with you now. And that, it seems, is about how long the increasingly gestating reboot of #Highlander has been with us. The Hollywood Reporter, though, is, well, reporting that the struggling reboot has finally landed a new director and it's one that is showing a lot of promise for the future of franchise as he and his partner are now in high demand.
John Wick Co-Director, Chad Stahelski, Has Signed On To Helm Highlander
While Chad Stahelski may not be a household name yet, you are no doubt aware of the surprise action hit #JohnWick, starring Keanu Reeves and (if you have a pulse) are anxiously awaiting the release of #JohnWickChapter2. He and his partner, David Leitch, were also Second Unit Directors on #CaptainAmericaCivilWar and it should be noted that Leitch just landed the coveted role of director for Fox's #Deadpool2.
What Is Highlander?
Highlander is a cult classic sci-fi/action film from 1986 starring Christopher Lambert, Clancy Brown and Sean Connery as immortal swordsman battling through time until only one remains to claim ultimate power. The film, directed by Russell Mulcahy, was a box office failure but managed to find its footing on home video and lead to the most tumultuous continuity ever. It spawned four film sequels with little (if any) connection to each other, two television shows and an animated series.
The first TV series aired from 1992 to 1998 and starred Adrian Paul as Duncan MacLeod (a clansman to Christopher Lambert's Connor MacLeod) and was actually quite popular, considered by many to be the best rendition of the story. The fourth movie, Highlander: Endgame, was a direct continuation of the series that united the two leads together and was met with lackluster reception due to a number of post-production problems.
The last installment to the series was 2007's direct to Syfy Channel Highlander: The Source, which was a follow-up to Endgame and was pretty universally despised by fans for not having any of the heart or flare that the series was known for. It was basically the final nail in the coffin for the franchise's run with it's "prime" continuity — if one can even call it that.
Lionsgate's Summit Entertainment acquired the rights to Highlander in 2008 and immediately started working on plans for a remake, originally having hired #Twilight screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg to pen the script. While that may have been cause for alarm for many, things began to look up when that script got scrapped and Justin Lin ( Fast & Furious, Star Trek Beyond) was attached to direct, and names like Dave Bautista and Ryan Reynolds (above) were signed on to star.
However, Justin Lin left the project and thus began the revolving door of would-be-directors that also led to Reynolds and Bautista departing the seemingly dead-in-the-water film. That, in itself, was a real shame because both actors would have brought some wit and star power that the struggling franchise was going to need in order to find its new, contemporary audience.
Why Is Chad Stahelski The Best Choice For This Film?
John Wick, simply put, was a fantastic film that nobody saw coming. Not since Michael Bay's Bad Boys had a directorial debut shown so much promise for the launch of a stellar film career. John Wick was heavy on the intense action scenes that are going to be required for a modern upgrade of the Highlander franchise, as well as appropriately balanced by the comedic wit that many fans have come to expect from their blockbusters thanks to films like the #Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It also helped bring Keanu Reeves back to his Matrix-level popularity, so clearly there's some Tarantino-style skills there for bringing star power out of the moth balls. It would also be interesting to see if his connection to (Deadpool 2 director) David Leitch will help lure Ryan Reynolds back to the starring role of this potential new franchise for Lionsgate/Summit. Because, let's face it: Highlander was only ever a cult success and will need a money-making star to help pilot the vehicle.
Stahelski is also a true fan of the source material, which is always a great thing when trying to adapt something for a new audience that has a core fan following already in place. It helps to hammer down the nostalgia while also bringing in a fresh new take. Speaking to THR, Stahelski said:
"I've been a huge fan of the original property since I saw it in high school. Such great themes of immortality, love, and identity are all wrapped up in such colorful mythology. I can't think of a better property that gives the opportunity to create interesting characters, mythic themes and action set pieces."
So there you have it folks! Highlander is being produced by Neal H. Moritz and original series producer Peter Davis and appears to be in great hands under the directorial guidance of Chad Stahelski. Hopefully there will be a lot of cameos in the form of Christopher Lambert, Clancy Brown and Adrian Paul that will serve as a great tip of the hat to the fans. Regardless, things are finally looking to be in a firm place for what could potentially be Lionsgate's next big franchise.
There's no firm word as to when we can expect Highlander to hit theaters, but be sure to check out John Wick: Chapter 2 in theaters February 10, 2017. Check out the trailer below:
What do you think? Are you excited to finally see the reboot of Highlander? Do you think it's in great hands with Stahelski? Would you love to see Ryan Reynolds sign back on as the star? Sound off in the comments below!
Follow me on Twitter (@ThisIsJamesT) for all things rant and ravey. Also, if you have some time, go back a ways and check out this fun retrospective I had written about the Highlander franchise and why we love to hate it.