Brett Ratner’s Herculean task?


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Exclusive: Brett Ratner was once reported to be the director of the new “Conan” movie for Avi Lerner and his Millennium/Nu Image. Now it looks like Ratner could make a movie for the action maven based on a different classic hero: Hercules.

Ratner is in talks to direct Lerner’s long-developed tale of the mythological god (Hercules to the Romans, Heracles to the Greeks). The producer has been developing the movie for more than three years, with the project gaining new momentum of late, though it’s still in the development stage. Little is known about the specifics of the new version, though it’s expected to bring Lerner’s classic action ethos to the larger-than-life character.


Is Ratner a good choice? The director has taken on action comedy in “Rush Hour” and superhero action in “X-Men: The Last Stand,” both of which have echoes in “Hercules,” though “X-Men: The Last Stand” engendered some sharp reactions from the online fan community. We’ll see how they react to this one.

Swords-and-sandals are showing surprising swagger at the global box office -- “Clash of the Titans” made nearly half a billion dollars around the world, prompting a sequel, and even domestic disappointment “Prince of Persia” was a huge hit overseas.

Hercules has been the subject of a number of foreign films, and Disney made an animated movie in the 1990s, but the character hasn’t had a live-action American treatment since the mid-1980s, when Lou Ferrigno played the character. And of course Arnold Schwarzenegger played Hercules 40 years ago in “Hercules in New York.” We don’t see him coming back, though.

--Steven Zeitchik


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