The situation with the proposed English TV version of the Robert E. Howard story, “The Devil in Iron” is reminiscent of the events surrounding the 1986 James Bond film, “Never Say Never Again.” Before producer Harry Saltzman purchased the rights to film Ian Flemming’s Bond novels, writer Kevin McClory co-wrote an original screenplay with Ian Fleming that eventually became the film “Thunderball.” Â Broccoli, however, had only purchased the rights to film the novels. Â He had no claim on the screenplay written before he sewed up the rights to the books.
After much legal rangling, Warner Brothers was allowed to make the 1986 film as long as the film did not deviate in any major way from the original McClory script or use any names or events from the Flemming novels or the United Artist Films produced by Broccoli’s company.
Applying the lessons learned from “Never Say Never Again” to the proposed Conan TV film may work in the favor of REH purists. Â The film makers might find the safest legal route in bringing their project to English television is to adhere closely to the original REH story, “The Devil in Iron.” Â The television production, if it does come to fruition, may turn out to be an interesting contrast to the expected action-movie style of the more expensive theatrical production.