The prospect of a Gladiator 2 has always been a tough sell for many. After all, Russell Crowe’s heroic Maximus died a pretty final death in the original film, standing above the corpse of the false Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) and reaching toward the afterlife—and his murdered wife and son. Yet it is not in Maximus or Commodus that director Ridley Scott has looked toward a sequel over the years—it is at Commodus’ nephew and the future emperor of Rome.
Indeed, we’ve known for years that Scott toyed with a Gladiator 2 starring Lucius, son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen). In the original film, Lucius was played by Spencer Treat Clark, but will likely be recast if Gladiator 2 ever gets in front of the cameras. Aye, the picture is back on according to Deadline, which reveals that Scott has set-up shop for the sequel at Paramount Pictures, and who has hired Peter Craig to write the screenplay. Craig’s previous credits include co-writing The Town, 12 Strong, and the last two Hunger Games movies (Mockingjay). It seems Scott is very intent on directing the sequel, which is not too surprising since he revisited some of his previous success when he directed two Alien prequels at 20th Century Fox.
In this vein, the choice of studio is also intriguing. Paramount acting as distributor in a deal struck by Scott’s Scott Free production company is not very surprising given DreamWorks Pictures (who produced the 2000 Gladiator with Universal Pictures as distributor) has lost most of its capital and is now primarily a production company for Steven Spielberg. (Universal still has the option to co-finance Gladiator 2.) However, Scott has long been producing most of his directorial projects at 20th Century Fox, including recently The Martian, The Counsellor, and Exodus: Gods & Kings. It spells ill omens for Fox’s future as a studio beneath the Disney vertical if Scott feels obligated to look elsewhere.
Gladiator 2 obviously would have a long shadow to emerge from. It would be Scott returning to the movie he won a Best Picture Oscar for, and in a genre he has visited more than once (spectacularly with the original and the director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven… and less so with Robin Hood). Still, the idea of him returning to Rome is not an entirely unappealing prospect, especially in an era where we enjoy our own bread and circuses more than ever. Romans, what say you?