Chad Stahelski is an ambitious filmmaker, as the 48-year old is looking to reboot Highlander for not one, not two, but three separate features. The mooted trilogy concept derives from an interview the director had, stating on the record that the 1986 remake has far more scope that a 120-minute movie could provide.
With John Wick: Chapter 2 coming out in February, Stahelski knows a thing or two about action franchises that have high expectations. After Summit and Lionsgate secured the services of the former stunt coordinator, he is on the path to create more from a character that spawned books and a television series.
The Appeal Is Addictive For Chad
Complete with a soundtrack from Queen that didn't resonate with moviegoers back in 1986, the subsequent success on VHS and DVD gave Highlander a cult status. Stahelski fell in love with the mythology right away and can't wait to get involved.
“If you go back and watch the original Highlander, whether the quality holds up or not or the filmmaking process holds up, there are things about that movie beneath just the shots and the lighting, there’s a mythology there, for some reason, it hooks us," argues the director. "We love that world. everybody loves the immortal realm. Everybody loves the code — There can be only one. There’s something about it that hooks you, hooks me, hooks all the fanboys about it. I went so far as I know every episode of all six seasons, plus the seventh season if you count Raven as a series, plus the novels, there’s something about the world that’s hooking.”
But with the passing of Freddie Mercury, is the Queen music crucial to the overall production? He believes so.
“The tone of the first one just hit at that weird music video edge in the 80s that had Queen and for some reason, Queen just fits," he said. "I don’t think you can do Highlander and bring about that kind of tone again with the mythological world and take it too seriously. Just as we did with Wick, you can’t kill 80 people over a puppy and take yourself seriously. We got to let the audience know that we’re having fun and that there is a world here. Point being I can’t see Highlander without Queen, without the queen center, without having Freddy Mercury, Prince of the Universe, and all this stuff. I can’t picture the movie in my head without it.”
Director Using His John Wick Connections For The Reboot
While some filmmakers would be cautious about tapping into their other work for fear of neglect, Stahelski knows that he already has a genius in his midst, utilizing composer Tyler Bates from John Wick.
“We had a great composer on John Wick 1 and 2, Tyler Bates, who we think is one of the best in the business especially for meta-reality — Guardians of the Galaxy, 300, John Wick," explained the director. I’ve already talked extensively with him about how can we take the magic of what Freddie Mercury and Queen gave us and how can we transpose that to modern day and give us that edge?”
The man behind the camera understands that the screenplay will be a make or break process, and the studio have made this priority number one.
“We’re currently doing a bit of work on the overall plot structure," Stahelski outlined. "When I came on board, they were trying to reinvent the single Highlander property. We’ve gone since back in and we would like to really expand the world, so we consider the same shortcomings don’t happen again that happened on the original project, meaning you have one great movie and four questionable followups. We want to develop a property that can give us — and again it’s not about marketing, it’s not so much about the financials, it’s about how can we make a more mythological, chapter one, chapter two, whats a great way to tell this story?”
Tapping into another famous franchise, the filmmaker sees a trilogy as the best way of producing a series that is true to the original story.
"The vision we’re trying to get across and what we’re trying to develop, I equate very close to Star Wars. The first one us a very satisfying ending but it does leave the door open and that’s kind of how I see this. I would really like to expand it over three. I see the gathering happening over three. It’s tricky don’t get me wrong, that’s why we’re still developing it. We want to be able to tell three complete stories that all kind of fit. I think the Star Wars trilogy, at least up to The Empire Strikes Back, is a good example of how we want to process it.”