Gladiator sequel still shrouded in secrecy
It’s been mooted for some years, and there has been no end of rumours, but there is finally some indication that a Gladiator sequel is moving forward. By Gladiator, we are, of course, talking about Ridley Scott’s sword and sandals epic that netted the Best Picture at the 2001 Oscars, as well as the Best Actor gong for its star Russel Crowe.
The as-yet-untitled sequel is still shrouded in some secrecy however, and we are mainly relying on media leaks to get details. But it was announced last November that the project will be going ahead. Ridley Scott is set to take the helm in the director’s chair again, as well as much of the original production team. Craig Scott has been hired as the film’s screenwriter.
As far as we can tell, it will be set 25 years after the events of the original. There is some rumour that the film will focus on the character of Lucius, the nephew of the villainous Commodus (played by Joaquin Phoenix in the original). It is not clear whether Spencer Treat Clark, who played Lucius in Gladiator, will return for the remake. Fans will also be hoping that Hans Zimmer gets to compose the original score again, such was the brilliance of his composition for the original film.
Details still unclear
Producers Walter Parkes and Lou MacDonald said: “We’re working with Ridley Scott, that’s one we wouldn’t touch unless we felt in a way to do it was legitimate. We’re working with an amazing writer as well, Peter Craig. It picks up the story 30 years later… 25 years later.”
A sequel to Gladiator is certainly no surprise given the current taste for reboots, remakes and sequels in Hollywood, and there were originally plans to make one not long after Gladiator was released. While it is not the money-spinner in terms of merchandising of Marvel or Star Wars, the film is clearly iconic. Indeed, Gladiator slot is one of the most popular casino games offered by Mansion, and there have been plenty of officially licensed Gladiator video games, so it does have some merchandising pull.
But the big question is whether a sequel will work? And, is it truly a sequel? It’s important to remember that the main characters were killed off in the original, and several of the supporting cast of actors, like Oliver Reed, are either dead, or in their 80s, like Derek Jacobi. So, when the story picks up 25 years later, it might be a little difficult to weave the new narrative through the prism of the original story.
Sequels big business in Hollywood
Sure, Peter Craig (The Town, The Hunger Games) is a strong screenwriter, and he will obviously have a good relationship with Ridley Scott after being part of the screen writing team for another hotly-anticipated Scott sequel – Top Gun: Maverick. But does he have the story to meet the expectations of an audience who fell in love with Maximus Decimus Meridius nearly 20 years ago?
Of course, it is unfair to judge the film, because we know precious little about the story. In a sense, Scott and Craig could be liberated because there was such a definitive ending to the original film with the deaths of Maximus and Commodus. You get the feeling that Scott would not sign on if there wasn’t a good story to tell. But there have been so many instances of unnecessary and badly-handled sequels in the past, we might just have to reserve judgement until we see a little bit more.
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Image: Courtesy of Universal Pictures