The Dark Fantasy Epic Kickstarted Icon’s Career In Streaming

By Douglas Helm | Published

conan the barbarian

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the world’s biggest movie stars now, but he used to be only known for his bodybuilding. That all changed when he starred in the film Conan the Barbarian in 1982. If you want to revisit the Governator’s breakout role, then you can head over to Amazon Prime Video to stream it now.

Conan The Barbarian Streaming On Amazon

conan the barbarian Arnold Schwarzenegger

Conan the Barbarian is a good old-fashioned sword and sorcery epic that follows Arnold Schwarzenegger’s titular warrior as he seeks vengeance for the murder of his parents by the snake cult leader Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones). The film was directed by John Milius, who also re-wrote the script drafted by Oliver Stone. The film was based on the Conan book series by Robert E Howard.

Not Much Praise, But Plenty Of Bank

conan the barbarian

While Conan the Barbarian got mixed reviews at the time of its release, its mass appeal was undeniable with amazing action, distinct production design, and awesome visual flair. The film was a massive financial success, grossing around $79 million worldwide against a budget of $20 million and home video sales that equaled over $300 million by 2007.

Arnold Almost Didn’t Make It

conan the barbarian arnold schwarzenegger

Of course, one of the most notable achievements of Conan the Barbarian was making Arnold Schwarzenegger a worldwide movie star. Schwarzenegger put the work in, too, as he performed most of his own stunts for the film. Another interesting tidbit is that two swords were forged for Schwarzenegger, each costing $10,000.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the relatively untested Schwarzenegger actually wasn’t the first choice to star in Conan the Barbarian. Executive producer Edward R. Pressman and associate producer Edward Summer were looking for the perfect fit for the lead role, and Charles Bronson, Sylvester Stallone, and William Smith were all considered at one point. However, that all changed when they watched a cut of the bodybuilding film Pumping Iron in 1976.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was essentially chosen because his muscular stature perfectly embodied the figure of Conan the Barbarian. His undeniable star power shone through and helped launch his career as one of the best and most reliable action stars of the 80s and 90s. The success of the film also led to a sequel in 1984 titled Conan the Destroyer, which didn’t achieve nearly the same level of success.

The Failed Reboot

conan the barbarian

However, Conan the Barbarian became gradually more popular over the years, achieving cult status. Finally, a reboot was released in 2011 that starred Jason Momoa in the title role. Unfortunately, this film ended up being a critical and financial bomb, which undoubtedly has played a part in the development hell that the third film in the franchise has been in.

The Threequel That Could’ve Been

A third Conan the Barbarian film, titled Conan the Conqueror, was meant to come out way back in 1987. However, Schwarzenegger’s commitment to Predator interfered, and the film entered development hell until 1997’s Kull the Conqueror adapted the script. Hope for a third film in the franchise reignited in 2012 when Universal announced a film titled The Legend of Conan.

The film would be a direct sequel to Conan the Barbarian and ignore Conan the Destroyer and the reboot. Universal dropped the project in 2017, but Arnold gave an update recently, saying, “It’s been pending for the last ten years.” He explained that Fredrik Malmberg has the rights and that he hopes the project happens, but added, “he has the rights, and until he sells the rights for one or two movies, or for the franchise, there’s nothing you can do about it.” 

It’s probably not a good idea to get your hopes up for another film in the franchise. But there’s always the original. Conan the Barbarian is available to stream now on Amazon Prime Video.