At one point called Xerxes, and then known as 300: Battle of Artemisia, the prequel/sequel to the 2006 blockbuster 300 has gone by many different names. Now that the film is in the midst of production, though, it appears to have landed on an official title — 300: Rise of an Empire.

Obviously Warner Bros. wanted to keep the 300 connection alive in terms of titling, since most will jump at the opportunity to return to that world. While the film doesn’t star practically any members of the original’s principal cast, 300: Rise of an Empire does boast a story that runs concurrent to the events in the first movie.

Loosely based on the Battle of Artemisium, 300: Rise of an Empire will feature the naval section of a battle between the Persians and the Greek. During the battle, the Persians — led by Artemisia (Eva Green) — were making a second attempt at invading Greece, whilst another army, led by the god-King Xerxes, was advancing through Thermopylae. It was in Thermopylae that the events of 300 took place, a clever explanation as to why Gerard Butler and his 300 Spartans won’t be in the film.

The Rise of an Empire subtitle could be a nod to several of the film’s rumored plot points – including the Greek’s “rising” up to Persian attack or more likely Xerxes’ rise to power. While the film will focus primarily on the Battle of Artemisium, it will also serve as a prequel to 300 and establish the character of Xerxes before he becomes the self-proclaimed god-King. As we already revealed, Rodrigo Santoro will be reprising his role as Xerxes.

While Zack Snyder was initially pegged to direct this 300 sequel, his duties on Warner Brothers’ highly anticipated Man of Steel has kept him away from the project. Instead Noam Murro (Smart People) will be directing the sequel, but he will be working off a script written by Snyder and Kurt Johnstad (Act of Valor).

Along with Eva Green and Rodrigo Santoro, the 300: Rise of an Empire cast will feature a few relative unknowns including Animal Kingdom‘s Sullivan Stapleton as General Themistocles, the leader of the Greek army. Like with the first film Warners is presumably hoping to use the promise of insane action to lure in audiences rather than a cast of A-list stars.

However, it will have been nearly seven years since 300 when this sequel releases, which leaves us wondering if audiences are still interested in a return to hyper-stylized cinematic experiences. Films like Sin City and 300 pioneered a very specific style of filmmaking that was memorable at the time – but, after countless underwhelming copycats, may not generate quite as much interest in today’s movie-going audience.

300: Rise of an Empire releases in theaters on August 2, 2013.

Source: Warner Bros.