Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: When it comes to directors on the movie Highlander, there can be only one. But it won’t be Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. The 28 Weeks Later helmer has exited Summit’s reboot of the film, which still has Ryan Reynolds poised to play the title character. I’m told that his exit is amicable, and that after a year of working on the project, he and Summit could not get past the fact they had differing views of the film, and finally agreed to disagree. Fresnadillo left a remake of The Crow to join Highlander. It’s unclear at the moment whether that is an option, but come Monday, he will be looking for another movie, and Summit will be looking for another Highlander helmer.

Summit Entertainment remains bullish on Highlander, which has a script by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, with the latest draft by Noah Oppenheim. It’s produced by Neal H. Mortiz and Peter Davis along with Enrique López Lavigne and Belen Atienza, with RCR Media Group’s principles Rui Costa Reis and Eliad Josephson exec producing. Justin Lin, once attached to direct, is also executive producer.

They are following the story of the 1986 original, in which Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert), an immortal Scottish swordsman who has spent centuries dueling to survive against others like him, must confront the last of his kind. That nemesis is a murderously brutal barbarian (Clancy Brown) who lusts for the Prize and the opportunity to rain hell on the world. I’ve always felt that the original movie’s mythology, hatched by Gregory Widen, was a recipe for a real franchise. While they did a fine job translating that mythology into a syndicated series that starred Adrian Paul, the feature films that followed the original have mostly sucked. I’m hopeful that Summit will get it right this time, even if they are departing from the original’s premise of casting an ageless Scotsman whose flashbacks provided opportunities for trips back into history, and made for plenty of beheadings (the only way these immortals can be killed). Choosing Reynolds, an American (the actor is actually Canadian), makes this different, but Reynolds certainly showed up in Safe House.

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