Have a question about something fantasy-related? Ask the Oracle! (Be sure to include your first name and the city, state, and/or country you’re writing from.)
Q: Will there ever be a remake of Conan the Barbarian? – Bryan, New York, NY
A: The Oracle says yes! Attempts have been made to revive the franchise for years, but Lionsgate has put the film on the fast-track. They’ve hired screenwriting duo Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain (Underworld: Rise of Lychans, Outlander) to pen a script, and are reportedly in talks with Brett Ratner (X-Men 3: The Last Stand) to direct.
But the film, tentatively scheduled for a 2010 release date, won’t be a remake so much as an “origin” film. The filmmakers plan to return to the story’s source material, the original 1930s pulp fiction stories by Robert E. Howard, in much the same way the Batman franchise was revived in 2005’s Batman Begins by returning to that story’s roots.
Interestingly, Liongate has another action-fantasy film in development, Amazon, about a “gladiatrix” who wrecks vengeance on an army for destroying her homeland. Scarlett Johansson is attached.
The original Conan did, of course, have two sequels, Conan the Destroyer, which was a minor hit, and Red Sonja, which was a flop.
Q: How is Legend of the Seeker doing in the ratings? – Anne, Cincinnati, OH
A: The Oracle can reveal that the latest syndicated fantasy television show from Xena: Warrior Princess’s Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi has done surprisingly well in the ratings—especially since reviews of the show, based on The Sword of Truth series of Terry Goodkind, were mixed. Ratings has softened a bit since its spectacular November debut—more the 3.6 million viewers tuned in per episode for its first month, but it’s now down to around 2 million viewers a week. The show has been helped by the fact that some CW affiliates are running it on Saturday nights when that network isn’t providing content.
The show, which will have a 22-episode first season, has been renewed for a second one.
Q: Actresses don’t seem to have much to do in fantasy films except look pretty and get rescued. Why do they take the roles? – Effy, Santa Barbara, CA
A: The Oracle could not agree more about the appalling lack of dimension for the female characters, not just in fantasy film, but even in fantasy literature. Why? It’s not because it’s mostly men writing these stories—there has always been plenty of great fantasy written about strong, multi-dimensional female characters; it’s because it’s mostly men deciding which of these stories get produced or published. Fortunately, break-out successes like Xena: Warrior Princess and Buffy: The Vampire Slayer have put proof to the lie that there is no audience for these stories, and things seem to be slowly changing for the better.
Why do actresses take roles that often seem so limp? Well, work is work, and everyone needs to eat. And plenty of actresses who first found attention looking pretty in fantasy films did go on to respectable careers, including Jennifer Connelly (Labyrinth, The Rocketeer), Jane Seymour (Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger), Joanne Whalley (Willow), and, yes, Olivia d’Abo in Conan the Destroyer.
Q: Why don’t the Elric books get the attention they deserve? – Ste, London, UK
A: The Oracle is not sure he agrees with your premise. Michael Moorcock’s series about the albino emperor of Melniboné have been enormously influential—and lavishly praised. But if they haven’t had quite the wider cultural impact of, say, Harry Potter, it’s because they came at a time—the 1960s and 70s—when fantasy was even less respected than it is now.
But the Oracle also reminds you that Elric is an anti-hero, and that’s always a hard sell in the greater culture, outside of literary circles. In that respect, Stephen Donaldson’s incredible Chronicles of Thomas Covenant haven’t gotten the respect they deserve either.
Now do you have a question? Ask the Oracle! (Be sure to include your first name and the city, state, and/or country you’re writing from.)
- Ask the Oracle: Why No Spin-offs for Grace Jones and Tina Turner? What’s the Worst Performance in a Fantasy Movie?
- Ask the Oracle: The Plot of the New X-MEN and Xena’s Royal Lineage
- Ask the Oracle (Fantasy Questions Answered)
- Ask the Oracle: Will Renee O’Connor Guest on SPARTACUS? What’s Going On With V? What’s the Air-Speed Velocity of an Unladen Swallow?
- Ask the Oracle: Are the AVATAR Blues Real? What’s Up With Conan (the Barbarian, not the Talk Show Host)?