EXCLUSIVE: Fredrik Malmberg, who for years was the Hollywood face of Swedish company Paradox Entertainment’s campaign to turn Robert E. Howard properties Conan, Kull The Conqueror, Solomon Kane and others into features, has reconnected with all those properties. Malmberg, who last year left the company after 15 years to hatch the producing shingle Cabinet Entertainment, has acquired Paradox Entertainment Inc in a stock deal.
Between the purchase of assets and the assumption of debt, it cost $7.5 million and includes all rights to the works of Howard, as well as the original Paradox properties Mutant Chronicles/Warzone, Kult, Chronopia and Mutant. The licensing/merchandise department remains intact and will from now on commercialize the IP portfolio under the Cabinet brand instead. With studios scouring high and low for any kind of established intellectual properties to build into film franchises, Malmberg got a lot of potential for his money.
Cabinet controls all of the 800 stories, and the hundreds of characters created by Howard. They include Dark Agnes, Bran Mak Morn (which Universal is developing with Working Title), the Texas gunfighter El Borak, the Celtic warrior Cormac mac Airt, and many others hatched through Howard’s pulp novels. Malmberg confirmed the deal. “These days, it comes down to brands and characters and we are looking at long-term possibilities,” he said. “We look at how Marvel played out with its rich based of characters, and this too is a universe that lends itself to exploitation in TV and film. There aren’t many libraries like this.”
The big play for this catalog is the Conan The Barbarian film that Malmberg is producing with Fast And Furious architect Chris Morgan at Universal. While Malmberg licensed the rights to that ill-fated Conan that starred Jason Momoa, this film brings back Arnold Schwarzenegger and is considered a direct sequel to the 1982 film that John Milius directed from the script he wrote with Oliver Stone. When Deadline broke the deal back in 2012, the idea was to look at a mature king pondering the latter years of his life. Andrea Berloff wrote the first draft, and Gangster Squad‘s Will Beall is working on the rewrite.
Malmberg said that Schwarzenegger showed chops and maturity in the genre film Maggie, and that this movie could be his version of Unforgiven. “It’s 30 years after the original film, and he’s facing his mortality and how a legend deals with the fact he’s older, and how does he want to go out,” Malmberg said.