In late 2016, it was announced that John Wick franchise director Chad Stahelski would be taking over Lionsgate’s Highlander reboot, after a bunch of previous development hiccups.
The project is still in active development but Chad will make John Wick: Chapter 3 first, Wick 3 is expected to begin filming spring/summer of next year.
Omega Underground has learned one production locale being eyed for his Highlander reboot is an undisclosed city in South Africa.
Cities like Johannesburg and Capetown offer tax incentives, which are very attractive for films that want to keep costs down.
Films that have shot exterior or stage work in South Africa include Mad Max: Fury Road, District 9, Dredd, Lord of War, Blood Diamond, Safe House (a Ryan Reynolds film), Chronicle, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
South Africa could be doubling for multiple locations (modern or in the past) and we’ve seen stages used in big films before (Mad Max: Fury Road), but the country also is a small part of Highlander lore.
Connor MacLeod, in a Highlander novelization (published in 1998) fought in the Anglo-Zulu War.
In 1879, Connor was in South Africa, serving in the British Army during the Anglo-Zulu War. Connor was the only survivor of his unit and was captured by the Zulu King Cetewayo. While in captivity, Connor learned that he was being fattened up for ritual combat. Connor was able to meet back up with Kastagir, who lied to him and told him he would be facing another Immortal. Connor soon fought against the Zulu champion with a spear, which he found to be a disadvantage since he could not behead his opponent. Despite this, Connor was able to match the champion, stab him, and quickly figure out that the champion was not an Immortal. That night, Kastagir helped him escape and showed him the way to the closest British camp.
In January, Chad spoke with Collider revealing that he hopes that Highlander becomes a trilogy. Mentioning he did his homework and read the novels, suggesting all material is game for adaptation. It’s possible this Anglo-Zulu War detail could be mined for the reboot as it was never used in the films or shows.
“If you go back and watch the original Highlander, whether the quality holds up or not or the filmmaking process holds up, there are things about that movie beneath just the shots and the lighting, there’s a mythology there, for some reason, it hooks us. We love that world. everybody loves the immortal realm. Everybody loves the code — There can be only one. There’s something about it that hooks you, hooks me, hooks all the fanboys about it. I went so far as I know every episode of all six seasons, plus the seventh season if you count Raven as a series, plus the novels, there’s something about the world that’s hooking.”
“I think the TV series hit on a lot of great stuff wasn’t in the feature, between the watchers and all the different types of immortals. How do we get this into a feature mode before we dribble it into the TV world? Well, let’s restructure it in parts, let’s look at it like it was a TV show, let’s look at it like it was a high-end trilogy. How do we tell the story of the gathering the quickenings, the immortals and how do we really build this world out even more so than the original project. That’s what we’re restructuring right now. It’s taking all the good stuff that we had before I was involved in the project from the script; redeveloping the script to give us really good chapters one, two and three; and expanding the world.
The vision we’re trying to get across and what we’re trying to develop, I equate very close to Star Wars. The first one us a very satisfying ending but it does leave the door open and that’s kind of how I see this. I would really like to expand it over three. I see the gathering happening over three. It’s tricky don’t get me wrong, that’s why we’re still developing it. We want to be able to tell three complete stories that all kind of fit. I think the Star Wars trilogy, at least up to The Empire Strikes Back, is a good example of how we want to process it.”
In 2013, Ryan Reynolds reportedly exited the Connor MacLeod role but after working with Chad’s John Wick partner David Leitch on Deadpool 2, it’s possible Ryan could return. We’ve been personally championing our casting idea of Keanu Reeves playing Ramirez.
Take with a grain of salt, but there were rumors circulating tabloids that Tom Hardy was being eyed at one point to play Connor.
Highlander is currently without production or release dates.
SOURCE: OMEGA UNDERGROUND