The 21st century is no time to be squeamish about remakes of classic movies; if it was moderately successful and gained a cult following, it’s going to get remade. This is especially true for Russell Mulcahy’s 1986 fantasy film Highlander, which has spawned four movie sequels, an animated series, an animated movie, an anime movie and two live-action TV series. Like its immortal protagonist, Highlander is a franchise that just won’t die.
Summit Entertainment grew aware that Highlander was in need of some serious resuscitation, since expecting a new generation of audiences to be familiar with the series’ long and tangled mythos was demanding a bit too much, and several years ago plans for a remake of the first film – and a reboot of the entire franchise – were put into place. Seven years later that remake has still not been made, but VFX artist Cedric Nicolas-Troyan is attached as director and Summit is now in the process of casting. The script was penned by Iron Man writers Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, with revisions by Melissa Rosenberg (who’s now the showrunner of Marvel’s upcoming Jessica Jones).
While there’s been no news on who Summit wants to play Connor MacLeod since Ryan Reynolds dropped out, The Wrap reports that the producers have someone in mind the role of Connor’s mentor, Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, who was originally played by Sean Connery. Tom Cruise, who was starring in Top Gun around the time of the original Highlander‘s release, is apparently the top choice to co-star as Ramirez. This claim comes from “multiple individuals familiar with the project,” and while Summit’s reps have officially denied any negotiations with Cruise, they haven’t denied that he’s the studio’s choice for the role.
It’s important to emphasize that Cruise is not actually in talks to play Ramirez yet. Cruise’s representative told TheWrap that Highlander is “one of many projects that come to him and he discusses,” and that Cruise is “offered tons of projects.” In teen movie clichés, Cruise is the popular cheerleader and Summit is the lovestruck nerd adding another Valentine’s card to a growing pile.
Cruise’s most recent action films have fallen into a groove of being moderately profitable (in the $200-400 million worldwide range) without topping the box office charts. The exception to this is Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, which grossed almost $700 million, so it’s no surprise that Cruise is currently focusing all of his attention on filming Mission Impossible 5.
Production on Highlander was supposed to begin in 2014, but it doesn’t look like much progress has been made since that tentative estimate. Given how long this project has been stewing in development hell, it’s going to take a bit more than vaguely hopeful casting choices to convince us that things are really in motion.
We’ll keep you updated on Highlander as development continues.