Never far from headlines, The King of Kings, our Lord of Lords, Arnold Schwarzenegger is ringing in 2016 with plenty of news. Announced at November's American Film Market, The Oak headlines revenge thriller 478, which has been shooting in Columbus, Ohio. Schwarz has long been tied to Columbus, owning property and building the Arnold Classic into a giant sports expo that sees over 100,000 attendees, exhibitors and athletes descend on the city in every March. A statue of the former Mr. Olympia stands near the convention center. 478 is based on the true story of a Russian architect whose family dies when two planes collide in Germany but the air traffic controller is cleared of responsibility and retires. 478 days later, the architect showed up at the controller's door step and stabbed him to death. Produced by Darren Aronofsky among others, Elliot Lester directs from a script by Javier Gullon. Argo's Scoot McNairy and Taken's Maggie Grace co-star in the $10 million flick that looks to be a dark character piece the way zombie daughter flick Maggie was versus a big action flick a la recent The Last Stand and Sabotage.
Next up, Arnold is replacing Donald Trump as host of NBC's Celebrity Apprentice; bringing decades of business experience and success to the show which I'll be sure to tune in for. The likes of Warren Buffett, Tyra Banks and Jessica Alba will be acting as mentors throughout for a cast that includes Vince Neil, Boy George, Jon Lovitz, Chael Sonnen and Ricky Williams. The winner takes home $250,000 bucks for the charity of their choice. Los Angeles takes over for New York City and the show is rumored to shoot in the Silicon Beach area, which includes Playa Vista. That's where Howard Hughes had several hangars that became sound stages then office space and site of filming for 1999's End of Days. It's also where I live so here's hoping we see some Arnold governed competition!
While doing press for the show, Arnold let it be known that the long gestating Robert E. Howard barbarian sequel will now be titled Conan the Conqueror. The script is finished and a director is being sought. Fredrik Malmberg and Chris Morgan are producing. I hope they consider Paul Verhoeven, violent and visceral director of Flesh + Blood, Robocop, Total Recall and almost Crusade, a bloody medieval epic that was to star Arnold in the 90's for Carolco before being dropped due to budgetary concerns. Arnold has been hyping the film for some time but I do wonder if it will really happen. Sadly, The Oak's drawing power is nowhere near what it once was with leading man efforts tanking at the box office. His popular social media presence is a big change from the 80's where you'd only see stars on talk shows, not any time, all the time online. $150 million budgeted Terminator: Genisys grossed $440 million worldwide but couldn't break $100 mil in the states leading Paramount to remove the sequel from their calendar. If Conan does happen, I'm guessing it will be for an economical $50 million or so and make most of it's bank overseas where Arnold still draws a crowd. Then there's the proposed Twins sequel, Triplets, that would reunite Arnold with Danny DeVito and introduce Eddie Murphy as their long lost brother. A script and revision has been completed but it's been pretty quiet. Until then, keep pumping and crushing your enemies!