Director Roland Emmerich’s new project, Anonymous, is officially set to arrive in theaters in the U.S. on March 25, 2011.

This new film from the 2012 director will surprisingly not be yet another big-budget FX extravaganza, involving either the potential end of the world or woolly mammoths building the pyramids (see 10,00 B.C. – if you care to).

Anonymous is instead a historical thriller set some 400 years ago, near the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth (played by Vanessa Redgrave) and during the Essex rebellion led against her.  The film revolves around Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans), the Earl of Oxford who – according to conspiracy theorists – was the real author of several works nowadays attributed to William Shakespeare (Rafe Spall).

Here is how Emmerich himself describes the film:

“It’s a mix of a lot of things: it’s a historical thriller because it’s about who will succeed Queen Elizabeth and the struggle of the people who want to have a hand in it.  It’s the Tudors on one side and the Cecils on the other, and in between [the two] is the Queen.  Through that story we tell how the plays written by the Earl of Oxford ended up labeled ‘William Shakespeare’.”

The pic also features supporting turns by Twilight stars Xavier Samuel and Jamie Campbell Bower, as well as Harry Potter actor David Thewlis and actress Joely Richardson (who played Queen Catherine on the cable TV period drama series The Tudors).

Emmerich normally has a hand in scripting his directorial efforts – for better or worse – though that will not be the case for the Anonymous screenplay.  That honor goes to John Orloff, who penned the script of the 2007 real-life drama A Mighty Heart and co-wrote this fall’s Legend of the Guardians.

There really is no other movie on Emmerich’s directorial resume that compares to Anonymous in terms of subject matter.  All of his previous films have generally been critical failures but done either respectable business at the box office or been blockbuster hits – however, they have involved aliens, monsters, and end of world scenarios, rather than historical/political conflicts.

Will audiences embrace Anonymous?  Best to hold off on figuring that out until the film has a trailer out.

Source: Exhibitor Relations (via Collider)