Warner Bros. already has Arnold Schwarzenegger starring in the about-to-shoot ''Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,'' but he'll be back -- to revive two additional fantasy franchises for the studio, Variety reports. He's signed to star in and produce a remake of Michael Crichton's robots-run-amok thriller ''Westworld'' and to return for a third installment of the ''Conan the Barbarian'' series that helped launch his action-hero career 20 years ago.
In ''Westworld,'' Schwarzenegger will play an implacable killer robot (now, there's a stretch). It's the role Yul Brynner played in the original, an android gunslinger at a theme park who malfunctions and starts hunting down tourists. ''I am very excited to be working on 'Westworld,''' the actor told Variety. ''I loved the original film when I saw it in 1973 and have wanted to remake it for several years.''
The ''Conan'' project will reunite Schwarzenegger with screenwriter John Milius, who directed the 1982 ''Conan'' and cowrote it with Oliver Stone. E! reports that Milius's co-screenwriters on this one, in which an older Conan teams with a younger swordsman, are Larry and Andy Wachowski, creators of Warner's ''Matrix'' trilogy. (Milius was not involved in the campier 1984 installment, ''Conan the Destroyer,'' where Arnold starred opposite Wilt Chamberlain and Grace Jones.) Executive producing is Marvel Comics guru Stan Lee, whose Stan Lee Media owns the rights to the Robert E. Howard stories where the character originated. Schwarzenegger would film the ''Westworld'' and ''Conan'' movies back to back at the end of the year.
With three franchise pictures and others possibly in the wings, Warner Bros. has an awful lot riding on Schwarzenegger, given that his last three movies (including Warner's recent ''Collateral Damage'') have failed to earn back their production costs at the U.S. box office. Still ''T3,'' ''Westworld,'' and ''Conan'' should play to his strengths: no emoting, little speaking, and lots of killing.