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Highlander — the musical, the new series, the multiplayer game

From SFX magazine #72 (Christmas 2000):


Exclusive! Even after Highlander IV was panned, a musical headchopping fantasy is planned

The limp critical response to the fourth and apparently final Highlander feature film, Highlander: Endgame, was thought by many to have sounded the death knell for the sword-swinging franchise; but executive producer Bill Panzer has revealed plans for three new Highlander projects to re-energise the series mythos for a new audience. Fan response to Endgame was good, maybe because of the feature's strong direct connections to the first Highlander movie and the major role for Adrian Paul's TV immortal Duncan MacLeod, but a troubled narrative spun out of script conflicts with production house Miramax produced a storyline that only a dedicated Highlander audience could enjoy. Together with his partner William Davis, Panzer had taken a strong stance to avoid dumbing down the script, no doubt remembering the misstep that was Highlander II. Now Davis-Panzer Productions are looking back to the original movie and re-tooling it for a new arena --- the New York stage. Currently in pre-production, Highlander: The Musical is hoped to be treading the boards on Broadway in 2001, and it's a project close to Panzer's heart.

"I've always wanted to do something like this," Panzer tells SFX enthusiastically. The producer is convinced that modern theatrical special effects will be able to render Quickenings and historical flashbacks on stage. "I'm serious! It's grand, romantic... Can't you hear someone singing 'Who wants to live forever?' It'll be a showstopper!"

Panzer is certainly no stranger to trying new twists on the Highlander saga, with an animated series in 1994 and the launch of a second television spin-off in Highlander: The Raven, which lasted only one season before cancellation. After the hard lessons the pair learnt with The Raven, Davis and Panzer are ready to try again with a third, as yet untitled Highlander series to launch late 2001 or early 2002. The new show will feature an entirely new immortal character. Somewhat similar in concept to Stan Kirsch's character Richie from Highlander: The Series, the latest lead will be a young man, new to The Game, on the road travelling from place to place each week. Details are sketchy, but the producers clearly hope to recapture the same magic that made Adrian Paul's lone hero a hit for six seasons. The new series will also be the first interactive Highlander project, tying into a massive on-line Highlander game currently being developed by French games studio Kalisto. An adventure community in the mould of Ultima Online, the game will allow players to log on and battle other immortals, while also running across material from the new TV series.

"There are characters, artefacts, information... things that take place in the show that will be relevant to the game," promises Panzer. "Nobody's ever tried this before."

Updated 16 January 2001

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