With Warner Bros. anxious to begin production on 300: Battle of Artemisia - and Zack Snyder being too busy rebooting the Superman franchise to oversee the 300 spin-off - the studio has been on a lookout for a replacement director since the beginning of this year (and before, most likely).
Guy Ritchie was briefly eyed as a potential helmer for the new project (which is based on Frank Miller's upcoming Xerxes comic book) before last month, when two other gentlemen were floated as possibilities: Jaume Collet-Serrra (Unknown) and Noam Murro (Smart People).
According to Heat Vision, Warner Bros. officials were impressed enough with both filmmakers to go ahead and set Collet-Serra up with its live-action Akira project - while also selecting Murro to handle Battle of Artemisia. An official offer to Murro (which he is expected to accept) will reportedly be made early next week, so look for an update in the near future.
For those not in the know, the soon-to-be-published "Xerxes" revolves around the titular character, who served as the primary antagonist in 300. Both the new book from Miller and its cinematic counterpart change things up by featuring the Persian leader as the protagonist of the story instead.
Snyder and his 300 co-writer Kurt Johnstad penned the script for the new 300 pic, which chronicles the experiences of Xerxes as he develops a major god complex, in the aftermath of his father's death, and wages war against the Greek warlord Themistocles. That conflict ultimately culminates with the battle of Artemisium (an event that occurred at the same time as the Battle of Thermopylae in 300).
Reportedly, the plan is for Murro to shoot Battle of Artemisia in "the same stylized vein as Snyder did with '300'," which admittedly does make him a bit of an odd choice for director. Snyder's hyper-realistic filmmaking style has been imitated (some would say aped or ripped off) in many an action-oriented blockbuster released over the past four years - including, perhaps most clearly, in the upcoming swords and sandals Greek epic, Immortals. However, Murro's sole previous directorial effort was a low-budget, character-driven indie film, so it's near impossible to say whether or not he's up to the challenge of making Snyder's now-familiar aesthetic feel fresh or innovative (like Tarsem Singh appears to have done, to a degree, with Immortals).
On the other hand: Battle of Artemisia is an actual part of the 300 franchise, so moviegoers will likely be more accepting if Murro merely retains the visual style of Snyder's film - and instead goes the standard sequel/prequel/spin-off route of attempting to garner people's interest by making everything (the battles, deaths, drama, etc.) bigger and shinier than it was in 300. Heck, Frank Miller all but admitted before that was the same idea behind his Xerxes comic book even!
We'll keep you posted on the status of 300: Battle of Artemisia as more information is released.