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Highlander Reboot Film Could Become TV Series Instead

Chad Stahelski is hard at work on his Highlander reboot — but before he presses on any further, he must decide whether it will be two hours long or 200, released on the silver screen or rolled out on the small one.

Chatting to Collider's editor in chief Steve Weintraub during the outlet's visit to the John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum edit bay, Stahelski revealed that his take on Highlander could fit into a television series instead of a feature film. 

The motivation behind conceptualizing the project as a show rather than a movie is to get a better sense of how much more of the Highlander mythology Stahelski and studio Lionsgate could fit across several installments, especially since it may prove difficult to fit all they want to into a 90-to-120-minute movie. 

Asked how the Highlander reboot is coming along, Stahelski responded, "Still fighting the good fight. Highlander is an interesting property. It's through Lionsgate as well [as] Neal Moritz. We're trying to get it done. Anyone who knows anything about the property knows it has a lot of meat to it. It's a good property. It's got a lot of potential. We're just trying to figure out the best way not to f*** it up. Not to try and fit it into a 1 hour [and] 45 minute movie, which, when your pitch is, 'There can be only one,' and in your first movie you kill everybody but the one, sequels have a problem of happening. So we're trying to design in a way that gives us a little more lead in, a little more time with the mythology and see some of the best characters."

He continued, explaining that a brand-new Highlander television series, which would come after the original show that ran from 1992 to 1998, could be a better option than a Highlander reboot movie.

"They did seven seasons of TV, and even though the TV show may not hold up today, the idea of it and the characters they brought in were super cool. So we're trying to devise a methodology that leads up to The Quickening. You just don't end with a one-on-one battle in New York, cut off a guy's head, and that's it. We want to do this in such a way that it becomes more of a series whether it's short form or long form that would let us explore that in the best way," stated Stahelski. "I have a huge, heartfelt love and respect for the project, so we're trying to find the best way to do it to give fans what they want."

If Stahelski's Highlander ends up turning to television, the next question is whether it would debut on a traditional cable network or on a streaming platform such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or HBO Now. Stahelski shared that he feels that a streamer could be the better home for his Highlander, as it would provide freedom that a network might not. He also pointed to HBO's epic fantasy drama Game of Thrones, which is set to release its final six, rumored-to-be-feature-length episodes for its eighth season this April, as an example of how television series can trump films in terms of action and atmosphere. 

"We're well past the script phase in terms of what we want to accomplish with a feature-length version of what we want and based on there being more after that. We want to tell the complete story of the Quickening, the Immortals, and all that. But the overall environment is changing so much. Look what Netflix is doing with TV now. As an action designer myself, there are two or three episodes of Game of Thrones that blow away 90 percent of features," Stahelski said. "Netflix has a whole new delivery system with features on that coming off differently and letting filmmakers and directors expand out without being crushed by opening weekend box office. So there's a couple different mediums we want to explore and what is the best way to bring this out in."

Those who have been tracking Stahelski's Highlander reboot from the start know that he has big goals for the project. The filmmaker first announced intentions to refresh the property, which began in 1986 with the original film that followed immortal Scottish swordsman Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) as he attempted to evade death at the hands of fellow immortal Kurgan (Clancy Brown), in February 2017, telling Entertainment Weekly that he wants to answer the question, "What would a guy really be like after 500 years of practicing sword-work?" and aims reinvent sword-fighting in the Highlander reboot in the same way his John Wick films reinvented gun fights

"It's scarily similar to John Wick. There's a great mythology, it's got an action-design challenge ... I'm still a stunt guy at heart. You want to reinvent gunfights, how do you do it? You want to reinvent sword-fighting, how do you do it? And that's where we are at now," he shared. "I love the first Highlander and I think I'm in a pretty good spot. The creative team, the producers and the studio that's behind it have kind of said, 'It's yours to play with.' The trick would be coming up with an interesting way to introduce it to new audiences without stepping on what's great about the original property. You don't want to over complicate it. I think it speaks very simply: 'There can be only one!' 'We're immortals!' 'Don't get your head chopped off!' I think we all know what happened with the sequels."

He also clarified that the plan is "to stay as true as we can to the original mythology, and just expand the world, and have fun within the world," without making the same mistakes that the much-maligned Highlander sequels did.

From that interview, Stahelski shifted his creative energies on directing John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum — but in late December 2018, he came forward to confirm that he "still very much want[s] to go in and do Highlander."

It's obvious that Stahelski wants to create something incredible in rebooting Highlander, and it's also become clear that he isn't rushing head-first into the project without thinking every aspect through extremely carefully. And that seems like a good thing. Although right now it sounds like Stahelski and co. are more focused on the long term and whether the project can spur additional content rather than centering attention on just the one reboot story, the feeling we get from Stahelski's remarks is that he wants to do right by the Highlander property while attracting the attention of both old and new fans. Whether Stahelski can succeed in that endeavor, only time will tell.