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Still, the greater intrigue will likely follow Schwarzenegger on the big screen. Shooting of “Cry Macho” is to begin in September, with Brad Furman (“The Lincoln Lawyer”) to direct the script based on the 1975 novel by N. Richard Nash.

Recent box office history suggests the market is quite good for aging action stars. “Red,” which starred Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren, earned more than $90 million domestically last year. Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables” did even better, taking in $103 million domestically and an additional $171 million internationally.

Schwarzenegger made a cameo in “The Expendables,” which assembled a cast of action stars in an ‘80s-style shoot-‘em-up. Most of today’s action films _ which frequently star Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson or Vin Diesel _ tend to be quite different in style than the movies Schwarzenegger used to star in.

“He was in a category all of his own,” says Lee. “Nobody really has come along to fill the spot he was in. Even though he’s a few years older now, he’s still in great shape, he still looks terrific. He looks about the way he looked then. I think he’s going to make quite an impact now. It’s something he wants to do. He obviously loves acting. I think he’ll do really well and I think the public will be eager to see him again.”

The actor’s most successful films were often sci-fi tales, including “Predator,” “The Running Man,” “Total Recall” and the “Terminator” movies. There were also comedies (“Twins,” “Kindergarten Cop”), disappointments (“Last Action Hero”) and missteps better forgotten (Mr. Freeze in “Batman & Robin”).

Stallone is working on a sequel to “The Expendables,” though Schwarzenegger is not yet attached. In 2009, “Terminator Salvation” continued the series without Schwarzenegger, instead casting Sam Worthington in the futuristic cyborg role. Hollywood trades have reported that Schwarzenegger’s agents are shopping a sequel to the franchise, with Schwarzenegger returning to arguably his most famous character.

“The older action stars are still very, very bankable,” says Dergarabedian. “As long as Arnold Schwarzenegger wants one, he can once again have a terrific movie career.”

For now, Schwarzenegger’s website features a photograph of him playing chess with a portentous message: “Stay tuned for my next move.”