Warner Bros.’ 300 spin-off has already changed names several times during pre-production. At first, it looked to retain the title of its inspiration (ie. Frank Miller’s comic book prequel, Xerxes) before it switched to 300: Battle of Artemisia. Thereafter, new word leaked out, claiming the film’s subtitle had been slightly tweaked to The Battle of Artemesium – and now, the latest reports on the project say it is simply untitled, for the time being.
Similarly, the new ancient world action flick was originally expected to be part prequel, but also part “mid-quel,” in the sense that a portion of the film was said to take place simultaneously with the Battle of Thermopylae in 300. Current consensus is that the project is “neither a prequel or a sequel and that the filmmakers are still figuring out its positioning.” Make of that what you will.
What we can say for certain (according to Variety) is that actor Sullivan Stapleton should be appearing in the film, seeing how he’s in the midst of final negotiations. Originally, it was being reported that he would be playing the megalomaniacal Persian ruler Xerxes – who was brought to life by Rodrigo Santoro in 300 – but now it seems that might not be the case. In fact, Stapleton might be up to tackle the role of the Greek General Themistocles, a part his Animal Kingdom costar Joel Edgerton was previously in contention for.
Certain sites are also reporting that Eva Green has finalized a deal that would see the Casino Royale actress star in the 300 spin-off. While there’s been no official confirmation on the matter yet, she remains the front-runner to portray the scheming Artemisia, based on the representation of the real-life character in Kurt Johnstadt and Zack Snyder’s screenplay.
On that note, it’s worth reiterating that Snyder is NOT directing the new installment in the 300 franchise. He is instead handing over the directorial reins to indie filmmaker Noam Murro, due to Snyder being busy with additional filming and post-prodution duties on the Superman franchise reboot, Man of Steel.
Given that things are seemingly still taking shape, as far as the narrative structure of the 300 spin-off goes, it seems the previously-leaked plot details from the film may no longer be accurate. Still, there seems good reason to think that Miller’s description of his original Xerxes comic mini-series (see below) should also hold true for the cinematic (semi?) adaptation:
“This is a more complex story. The story is so much larger. The Spartans in ’300′ were being enclosed by the page as the world got smaller. This story has truly vast subjects. The Athenian naval fleet, for instance, is a massive artistic undertaking and it [sic] dwarfed by the Persian fleet, which is also shown in this story. The story has elements of espionage, too, and it’s a sweeping tale with gods and warriors.”
What’s ironic about the idea of the new 300 flick being “bigger and badder” than its predecessor is that most of the talent being attached to the film are of either a lesser-known or less bankable status – even when compared to Snyder, back when he made the original 300. Obviously, Warner Bros.’ executives feel the property title sells itself and does not require more prominent talent attached, in order to become “marketable.”
The idea of a more Xerxes-centric 300 movie that does NOT feature Zack Snyder’s trademark artistic (re: visual) touch is far from being a guaranteed sell with moviegoers. We should know the general consensus of opinion sooner, rather than later, seeing how the 300 spinoff is slated to begin shooting by Summer 2012 – with a 2013 release date most likely in mind.