Back in the 1950s and 1960s, sword and sandal epics were all the rage in Hollywood. Time and again, cinematic epics centered on Greek and Roman history and mythology wowed audiences looking to escape to an adventure set in another age.
In more recent years, however, such films haven't thrived so much, comparatively speaking. Gladiator and 300 were both critical/commercial successes during the 2000s, while 2014 alone brought one under-performing title (The Legend of Hercules) about the Greek demigod Hercules - one of the most well-known figures in this particular genre of film - as well as the Dwayne Johnson-headlined Hercules and yet another Ridley Scott swords and sandals epic (Exodus: Gods and Kings), the latter pair of which were modest financial successes.
However, according to Deadline, Lionsgate's Summit Entertainment and White Horse Pictures have their sights set on developing a new franchise set in ancient Rome. The company is co-producing a Julius Caesar epic titled Emperor, which is reportedly envisioned as the first in a planned trilogy of films about the rise and fall of the Roman leader. The film will be based on two novels in a series of books by Conn Iggulden, namely "The Gates of Rome" and "The Field of Swords". This initial film aims to establish the friendship between Caesar and Marcus Brutus, who ultimately betrays Caesar.
As far as source material goes, there's certainly a tried-and-true element of Caesar's tragic story that could certainly make for a compelling big-screen trilogy. Although Emperor is unlikely to feature any fantastical elements, Game of Thrones has proved that the demand for this kind of historical political intrigue drama clearly exists, and the fact that Lionsgate and Summit are making this a top priority means that more news about the team behind the new film will arrive soon enough.
In fact, Emperor is being touted as a combination of 300 and Game of Thrones, a story of a doomed friendship torn apart by time and circumstance. Summit has a large foothold in the young adult book-to-film adaptations such as the Twilight, The Hunger Games and Divergent series. So it will be interesting to see how far the creative team will push the dark tone and violence of Emperor, or if the project will be tailored to appeal to a broader audience. It's too early to tell how the film will turn out, but there's definitely potential here.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for updates on Emperor as this story develops.