Red Sonja might be in danger once more. In May of 2021, actor Hannah John-Kamen was announced to have been cast as the titular character, an iconic swords-and sorcery-genre fantasy heroine. Not quite a year later, multiple sources are reporting that John-Kamen has dropped out of the project and Millenium Pictures has put out an open casting call for the part. John-Kamen’s reasons for stepping away from Red Sonja are not elaborated further upon (and will likely be much speculated on), but it is actually a double whammy: reportedly, director Joey Soloway has left the project as well. It sounds like M.J. Bassett, the director 2012’s video game adaptation Silent Hill: Revelation, is next in line to helm the project. However, given that this is just one more delay to Red Sonja, who knows where it’ll be this time next year?
Millennium Pictures first announced development on Red Sonja back in 2017, with X-Men director Bryan Singer to direct the film. However, after a series of sexual assault allegations against Singer, he was dropped and the entire project shelved. It was later revived with Joey Soloway (the creator and showrunner of Amazon series Transparent), and Hannah John-Kamen was cast in the title role. John-Kamen has appeared in Steven Spielberg’s pop culture extravaganza Ready Player One and in the MCU with Ant-Man & The Wasp in recent years. She also graduated to lead status with last year’s Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, portraying Jill Valentine. Red Sonja would likely have cemented that, but considering the back and forth of development on this one, she might be better off.
This most particular version of Red Sonja is just the most recent attempt to adapt the character for the big screen. The character was created by Robert E. Howard back in 1934, and shares a fictional universe with his most famous creation, Conan the Barbarian. She has often teamed up with Conan in all variety of media from stories to comics and even movies, and she herself is an influential and iconic figure in fantasy literature. A Red Sonja movie did manage to get made in 1985, starring Danish actor Brigitte Nielsen. Arnold Schwarzenegger reprised his on-screen role as Conan in a supporting role, but the film was both a box office and critical flop. At one point in the early 2000s, Rose McGowan was cast as the character, which never came to fruition. We’re not saying it’s a cursed IP, but…
Losing both Hannah John-Kamen as lead and Joey Soloway as director is a pretty big blow to Red Sonja. At this point, Millennium Pictures has been developing the movie longer than most movies take to produce a film, then get a sequel on the ground and running. However, given that there has never been a truly successful Red Sonja movie and they already own the property, it feels likely that the studio will keep plugging away at it until they get something down. Good luck to you, Red Sonja.