When it was announced as a direct-to-DVD animated feature, “Conan: Red Nails” sure had a lot going for it. Based on one of the most celebrated original stories by Conan creator Robert E. Howard and featuring design work from legendary fantasy artists Mark Schultz and Mike Kaluta, “Red Nails” staked claim on fanboy perfection when it announced that “Hellboy” actor Ron Perlman would be providing the voice for the headlining barbarian along with backup from stars like Mark Hamill and James Marsden.
With so much talent announced on the movie, it’s a wonder more people haven't heard of the project. Then again, these developments were announced a while ago. Back in October, actually...of 2005. So with a new live-action "Conan" feature on the horizon, we went looking into whatever happened to this former high-profile animated film. And we learned the long wait thankfully doesn’t mean the project is DOA.
“Trust me, [fans] have really never seen anything like these Conan animated sequences,” beamed screenwriter and executive producer Steve Gold of start-up animation studio Swordplay Entertainment in an interview from 2005. “The action is amazing ... There’s a sequence where Conan is fighting this huge slug monster, and he literally cuts this thing in half. Its own weight carries it down his blade. It’s this huge sequence, and you’re there with Conan in the belly of this slug, and no one has attempted anything like that before. And that’s just one part of this major battle sequence.”
Apparently, completion of those sequences, which were to combine traditional cell animation with CGI elements, were a bit harder to wrap up than originally expected as the film slid past its initial summer 2006 plan of release. Soon after, the Swordplay Entertainment homepage was taken down, and although a site for “Red Nails” itself still stands, the last update was December of last year.
However, David Schwarcz, another executive producer from Swordplay, has confirmed to MTV News that the picture is still moving forward. “It looks like we’re planning to release it in December ’09,” Schwarcz explained. “We’ve been tweaking the animation a lot. Also, we’ve gotten some more deals going for live-action rights and other ancillary rights that we’ve been developing with the property, so that’s taken a little longer. But now we’re proceeding along with the final stage of animation and negotiating the final touches on a distribution deal.”
That live-action deal Schwarcz mentions is the one inked by Conan property owners Paradox Entertainment with “Rambo” production house Millennium Films. “We want to be part of the whole Conan live-action release or at least to work in tandem with them,” he added. “We’re very focused on this [animated] movie. We think it’s going to do very well and is very exciting.”
"As is common with many independent productions of this kind, ['Red
Nails'] was not entirely financed when it was started," added Paradox's "Conan" honcho Fredrik Malmberg. "Financing is the hardest part of any film production. The people at Swordplay worked hard this last year at solving distribution and financing issues so they would be able to complete the production."
Malmberg also said that there was a possibility the animated feature would be completed within a year and that "we support [Swordplay] fully and have been told that they are very close to getting over the hurdle."
Would you check out a Conan animated feature? Excited to hear that "Red Nails" is back on track? Talk to us, all you barbarians out there!