Are you not entertained? You will be, as three gladiator flicks are being pushed into production to do battle in 2024.
Every so often, the Hollywood cogs grind into a certain synchronicity and various studios end up bringing similar projects into development at the same time. It’s an oft-quoted (but perhaps a little dated) maxim that there are always six Robin Hood films in development in Hollywood at any given time, something we saw come to pass in the early 1990s when two films featuring the legendary Sherwood outlaw released around the same time (with a third being cancelled as it lost the race to start of production). Likewise, there were the two competing Alexander the Great projects from Baz Luhrmann and Oliver Stone that occupied a lot of headlines in the mid-2000s.
Only the latter project made it to the end of that race in an era where the historical epic was king. Advances in CGI saw 2000’s Gladiator spark a surge in historical epics that wouldn’t last. Some say that Ridley Scott’s Kingdom Of Heaven in 2007 was the beginning of the end (the longer cut of that film is well worth checking out though) whilst for others, the wheels wouldn’t fully fall off until 2014’s Exodus: Gods And Kings, also helmed by Scott.
Still, after a quiet period it looks like the historical epic may be back. The Hollywood Reporter has published a fun piece looking at three competing Gladiator movies, all set for a 2024 release. Ridley Scott (him again) is directing the one we’ve all heard about, with Gladiator 2 set to feature the twin talents of Aftersun's Paul Mescal and Barry Keoghan. There’s talk that none other than Denzel Washington may appear too. Blimey.
There’s talk that Roland Emmerich has a project due for release though, although sadly it may not be heading for a cinema release. Those About To Die has a great title and looks like it may be going straight to streaming but it does have Anthony Hopkins in it, not to mention Pepe Barroso who may yet be a breakout star from Neill Blomkamp’s upcoming Gran Turismo movie.
Finally, there’s also a Starz project led by Stephen S DeKnight which is set to resurrect Spartacus. Not a great deal is known about that one, apart from that it promises to “explore uncharted territory and new journeys of the original series’ iconic characters” with a “tale of treachery, deceit and blood unfolding beneath the foreboding shadow of Rome.”
At the moment, it looks like these films won’t battle it out in cinemas whilst the audience raise or lower their thumbs like Roman emperors. Still, could this spate of swords and sandals movies herald a resurgence of the genre that enthralled us from the turn on the century? We certainly hope so.
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