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With ‘Highlander: The Series’ Anniversary Upcoming - What's New With the Franchise?

Photo by Pixabay/CC0

October 3 will mark the 27th anniversary since Highlander: The Series which first aired on TV. The joint Canadian-French production revolved around the “Highlander” Duncan MacLeod—a 400-years-old Immortal, and his efforts to balance life as an ordinary person and a warrior fighting against the evil. The show aired from 1992 until 1998 with Adrian Paul cast for the role of the main character.

The series was only one of the many elements of the Highlander franchise which began after the 1986 release of the original full-feature Highlander movie, starring Christopher Lambert in the leading role. Throughout its existence, the TV series was well-received, amassing fans from all around the globe.

In 2016 it was reported that Chad Stahelski, director of the John Wick movies, is onboard with rebooting the Highlander. Back then, even a trilogy was considered. However, as time passed, it has become clear that nothing is sure about the final format.

Stahelski said in February for Entertainment Weekly that he treats the project “with a lot of care,” commenting that “this is one of those properties that could sustain a good universe, meaning a TV show or something.” In January, Chad mentioned before Collider that he and the team involved in the project are working on the right way to approach it considering that a feature-movie length might not be enough for the proper unfolding of the plot. The director added that ultimately, it might end up as a “short-form or long-form” series.

The movie that started it all, the Highlander, revolved around Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert)—a Scottish swordsman and an Immortal of the same clan as the TV series’ Duncan MacLeod. After completing his training with fellow Immortal Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez (Sean Connery), the centuries-old Connor MacLeod ends up in the 80s in New York. Hoping for a quiet life, and in love with the forensic scientist Brenda, Connor must face the reality that the villain Immortal Kurgan (Clancy Brown) won’t let him live in peace. Kurgan is after an extraordinary power awarded to the last living Immortal, and he’s literally after Duncan’s head as Immortals can only die by decapitation.

All in all, the popularity of the franchise spawned many productions. Apart from the five feature-length movies, latest being the 2007 Highlander: The Source, the TV series received a spin-off titled Highlander: The Raven; a flash animation series plus two animated films; novels; comics; audio dramatization; and video games.

The franchise is even an inspiration behind a blockbuster movie-themed online slot. It’s not uncommon for popular entertainment productions to be featured in casino games. For example, hits such as Game of Thrones and Narcos are also featured in the designs of popular online slots, adding to the experience of playing, and providing players with a varied choice depending on their movie preferences.

Thus, we can safely assume that the Highlander has enjoyed considerable popularity. While the first Highlander failed to pay-off through the box-office, it achieved a considerably higher success through movie rentals and DVDs and set the beginning of a franchise that includes four film sequels.

Alas, the feature-length follow-ups didn’t appeal so much to fans, with the first sequel Highlander II: The Quickening receiving unfavorable reviews because it introduced significant changes to the original storyline by “revealing” that the Immortals come from the alien planet Zeist. The deviation from the original story and overall chaos of the movie, rubbed critics and fans the wrong way and as a result, the film carries a 0% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

It is the negative reception and inconsistency of the Quickening that presents another challenge for director Stahelski. From what he has revealed so far, he plans to create a movie or a TV series that is consistent with the subsequent continuation of the franchise. “So we’re trying to devise a methodology that leads up to The Quickening,” Stahelski said.

Photo by nicolas genin/CC BY-SA 2.0

Ever since the remake planned by Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment was announced in 2008 a plethora of names of high-profile actors, writers, producers, and directors have been circulating in the media as connected with development. In the end, however, little is known for a fact other than that director Stahelski and scriptwriter Ryan J. Condal are working on the project. There’s no word yet when we should expect to see the final results and whether they’d be a series or a feature-film format.


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