The Hollywood Reporter says that Brett Ratner has weighed two high-profile projects the past few weeks: Paramount's fourth installment of the "Beverly Hills Cop" franchise and a 21st century take on "Conan" co-produced by Nu Image/Millennium and Lionsgate.
Ratner has now made his choice and is in final negotiations to direct Conan, which is aiming for a release in early 2010.
The trade says that Ratner jived to the Conan script by Joshua Oppenheimer and Thomas Dean Donnelly, who looked to Robert E. Howard's original pulp stories of the 1930s to create their take on the character. The writers are doing a quick polish to incorporate some of Ratner's ideas.
Joe Gatta and Avi Lerner of Millennium Films are producing, along with Paradox Entertainment president and CEO Fredrik Malmberg.
Millennium and Lionsgate are eyeing a potential franchise and envision a very R-rated approach in the $85 million budget range. Preproduction is under way for a shoot at Nu Image's Nu Boyana Studio in Bulgaria.
"The story opens on the battlefield where Conan is born and tells the origin story that sets the stage for what will be the first of multiple films," Lerner said.