By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist February 4, 2013 at 11:41AM
There was a point about two decades ago when Renny Harlin threatened to become the next James Cameron. Harlin, the most/only famous person to come out of Finland, started out on the "Nightmare On Elm Street" franchise before having back-to-back action smashes with "Die Hard 2" and "Cliffhanger." With his A-list movie star wife, Geena Davis, he set up two big-budget action films that promised to cement him as one of the biggest directors in the world: one the revival of a genre that had mostly been forgotten by Hollywood, the other the most expensive spec sale in history.
Unfortunately, those two films were "Cutthroat Island," one of the biggest flops ever, and the equally unsuccessful "The Long Kiss Goodnight," and Harlin's career has faltered ever since. Aside from the reasonably successful "Deep Blue Sea," Harlin's movies, from "Driven" to the more recent "5 Days Of War" have made successively less and less money, with several in the last few years only just sneaking into theaters. He's more familiar on TV these days with work on shows like "Burn Notice" and "White Collar," but the filmmaker's heading back to theaters, and causing a headache for some bigger-name talent as he does so.
Heat Vision report that Harlin has signed on to direct "Hercules 3D," a new $70 million take on the Greek legend, and one that competes directly with a similar project that Paramount and MGM are prepping, to be directed by Brett Ratner and starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. That film, based on a comic book, is currently scheduled for release on August 8th, 2014, but Harlin's film, backed by Millennium, will go before cameras in Bulgaria in May, and is planned to hit theaters in March 2014.
The script, penned by Sean Hood (the "Conan" remake) and Hanna Weg, is set to be more down-to-earth than its fantastical big-budget rival, with Harlin telling the trade "It's not a comic book, cartoony fantasy thing. It's closer to "Gladiator" than flying horses... Ancient Greek mythology is an endless source of good stories... Let's see both movies be successful." The film marks the second example of pre-sales/rotten movies experts Millennium seemingly transforming into a higher-profile version of Asylum films, as their Pennsylvannia Avenue-set actioner "Olympus Has Fallen" hits theaters this March, intended as a spoiler to Sony's bigger-budget "White House Down."
So who will prove victorious in the battle of the Herculeses? Well, with Harlin, Millennium and the writer of the borderline-unwatchable "Conan" remake in one corner, and Ratner in the other, one thing's certain: whoever wins, we lose.