Netflix Is Working on a Conan The Barbarian Series

What is best in life? To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to have your story adapted by Netflix in a bingable, 10-episode television season.

Deadline reports that the series is part of a deal between the streaming service and Conan Properties International, the company that holds the rights to Robert E. Howard’s characters.

The series is apparently in development, and Netflix has the option to the larger library of Conan stories, meaning they could develop any number of animated and live action films and television shows. There’s no showrunner, writer, or director to helm the project, at this point Deadline says.

Conan’s been a popular character for film and TV over the years, which could be why Netflix is interested in it—it’s a recognizable property that it could build out into a larger world.

Howard originally created the character in his story “The Phoenix on the Sword”, which eventually saw print in a 1932 issue of Weird Tales magazine. Before his death in 1936, he wrote another 21 stories, all set in his “Hyborian Age,” a fictional era of ancient history. The character was memorably brought to film by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s in 1982 with Conan the Barbarian and its 1984 sequel, Conan the Destroyer, while producers rebooted the franchise in 2011 with Conan the Barbarian, with Jason Momoa in the title role. There was chatter of a continuation of the original Schwarzenegger series set to debut in 2014, but that obviously didn’t end up happening.

The character has also been brought to TV before as well: an animated series called Conan the Adventurer debuted in 1992, as well as Conan the Young Warriors in 1994. A live action series, Conan the Adventurer, debuted in 1997.

Another modern iteration surfaced a couple of years ago for Amazon Prime Video, intending to return to character’s original stories. That project seems to have gone by the wayside—not surprising, given that Amazon later picked up two major adaptations in the form of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time.

By picking up the rights to the character, Netflix has an opportunity to see if there’s any interest in a larger franchise for Conan. Deadline notes that it fits with a pattern that the streaming service has demonstrated in recent years: pick up highly recognizable stories, which it can then spin out into larger franchises that mix TV and film. It’s done that most recently with The Witcher—which is gaining a number of spinoff prequels and animated projects—as well as the MillarWorld comics and C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series.

If successful, Netflix would be able to attract more subscribers to its platform—something that’s becoming harder to do as consumers have more options in the form of Apple TV+, Disney+, Paramount+, HBO Max, and so forth. Still, it’s far from a sure thing: Netflix recently announced that it wouldn’t renew its adaptation of Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon for a third season, and wouldn’t continue its Dark Crystal series beyond its first season.

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