Renny Harlin set to direct ‘Hercules 3D’

Veteran action director Renny Harlin ("Die Hard 2," "Cutthroat Island"), is picking up a sword, getting some sandals, and getting set to direct "Hercules 3D" for Millenium Pictures. Millennium and Harlin are aiming for a March 2014 release to beat a rival Hercules film -- directed by Brett Ratner and starring Dwayne Johnson, scheduled to bow in August of that year -- to theaters.

Harlin told the Hollywood Reporter that "Hercules 3D" is "not a comic book, cartoony fantasy thing," adding, "It's closer to 'Gladiator' than flying horses." He also tried to downplay talk of there being a rivalry with the Ratner/Johnson Hercules film, saying "I think these are very different kinds of movies in their approach to this legendary character. Obviously, Hercules has been portrayed in many different films, such as the Disney animated movie. I wish them luck. Ancient Greek mythology is an endless source of good stories ... Let's see both movies be successful."

As Harlin alludes, Hercules has been the subject of many films over the years, portrayed by bodybuilders Steve Reeves in the 1950s and Lou Ferrigno in the 80s. The physical feats involved in Hercules' fabled 12 labors make the role a great physical showcase for the right leading man (hence the very muscular Mr. Johnson playing the role in Ratner's film). No word yet on whom Harlin might cast as his lead.

"Hercules 3D" will mark the Finland-born Harlin's return to big-budget action filmmaking after more than a decade of smaller-scale genre fare ("Exorcist: The Beginning") and television. It will also mark his debut directing in 3D. Millennium charman Avi Lerner says, "Now that we have a strong script, a very talented director and the prospect of an exciting cast, we’re ready to move forward with the project."