The day is young, but this has got to be the forerunner of news I did not expect to hear today. After returning to ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER as a director and producer, respectively, on the recent sequels, Ridley Scott is teeing up a return to his Best Picture-winning film GLADIATOR. Deadline reports that Scott has “begun forward progress” on a sequel to the 2000 film, which starred Russel Crowe in the Best Actor-winning role of the Roman soldier-turned-gladiator-turned-resistance leader Maximus.
Of course, Crowe’s haunted hero died at the end of GLADIATOR, and according to the report, the sequel comes from a script by THE TOWN and TOP GUN: MAVERICK screenwriter Peter Craig and will follow Lucius, the son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen) and nephew of the corrupt emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Maximus saved Lucius and Lucilla in GLADIATOR from Commodus’ cruel tyranny and “left a strong impression on the young Lucius.”
As for the behind the scenes details, Scott and his Scott Free production banner are said to be leading the charge on the sequel, with Deadline’s sources saying Paramount will develop the project while Universal has an option to co-finance. Universal distributed the original film, while DreamWorks produced it. But this time, DreamWorks is out.
As always, Scott has a whole heap of irons in the fire, including the comic adaptation QUEEN AND COUNTRY and Disney’s spin on the young years of the wizard MERLIN. The filmmaker is currently at work on his first ever TV series ‘Raised By Wolves’, which is set up at TNT. Scott also executive produced AMC’s chilling horror history ‘The Terror’ this year. But as we know, Ridley Scott doesn’t mess around (just look at those ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD reshoots) and word is GLADIATOR 2 could come together quickly.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a wave of good sword and sandals movies, which outside of GLADIATOR and a few other gems have never really reached the heights the genre saw during the 60s. Let’s just say EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS didn’t exactly take off, and it wasn’t just because of the casting controversy. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if audiences have a hunger for the genre and its epic tales of righteousness right now, considering the political discord and corruption dominating the headlines world wide these days. But if the the arena epic may be ripe for a comeback, the biggest question may be who could fill Crowe’s shoes?