300: Rise of an Empire

300, Zack Snyder’;s 2007 adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel of the same title was one those movies which had a phenomenal success that broke new grounds in cinema. Its popularity was big enough that its studio Legendary Pictures had to come up with a sequel, entitled “300: Rise of an Empire”

The sequel may actually feel like a prequel, this time, directed by Noam Murro. After the final sequence of the first 300, we thought we were going to see a continuation of the war story, instead, we go to the story which depicts the Battle of Artemisium, which was a series of naval engagements that coincided with the Battle of Thermopylae, from which the first 300 movies is based upon. This means that the featured battle in this new movie happens simultaneously while the battle from the first movie was occurring.

But in addition to that, it will probably get us into flashbacks and prequel story arcs which focus on some characters from the first movie, such as Xerxes of Persia. This new movie will focus on the story of Themistocles and Artemisia I of Caria as well.

This movie is based on Frank Miller’;s graphic novel “Xerxes” which is his sequel book to “300” which he himself wrote. Although the title character is the Persian Ruler, the protagonist is still one of the Spartans, in the person of Themistocles.

In an interview, Frank Miller talks about ‘;XERXES’;
“The time frame begins 10 years before ’300′; and the story starts with the Battle of Marathon, which was killer to draw, by the way, even if it was a lot of work, The lead character is Themistocles, who became warlord of Greece and built their navy. The story is very different than ’300′; in that it involves Xerxes search for godhood. The existence of gods are presupposed in this story and the idea is that he well on his way to godhood by the end of the story. With Themistocles I have a character who is almost the dead opposite of Leonidas in that Themistocles was a lying, conniving, brilliant, heroic figure. He was nicknamed ‘The Subtle Serpent’ and he always manages to do the exact right things that will result in him benefiting greatly.”

The book will also give Xerxes a more defined character background, and not just a plain villain as he seemed to look like in the first movie. He quotes
“He (Xerxes) is such a pivotal character and in this story I get to explain him so much more fully,” Miller said. “I do my best to crawl inside his head rather than have him be this iconic force that simply commands this huge army. There are many scenes with him alone or just with his people. There’s an extended scene set in Persepolis, for instance, where he takes power and there are several scenes where he is going through his transitions and he’s shown speaking to his mother and his wife and with all of that he becomes that much more interesting as a character.”

The film will more likely have the same faithful approach to adapting Miller’;s book. It will star Rodrigo Santoro, playing Xerxes, and Lena Headey, playing Queen Gorgo of Sparta, both reprising their roles from the first movie. The film will also star Eva Green, Sullivan Stapleton, Callan Mulvey, Hans Matheson, and Jack O’;Connell.

Development of this movie began as early as June 2008, with producers Gianni Nunnari, Mark Canton and Bernie Goldmann actively working on the spin-off. Zack Snyder initially was interested to direct it, but he later chose to sit as producer, as he was going to be busy with the development of the Superman movie “Man of Steel”. During pre-production, the film was titled 300: Battle of Artemisium (although this was widely misreported as “Battle of Artemisia”). The film was retitled 300: Rise of an Empire in September 2012.

The lead role was originally offered to Joel Edgerton but he declined. The original script featured King Leonidas and Queen Gorgo from 300, but they were ultimately cut out because Gerard Butler turned down the offer to reprise his role as Leonidas, since it “wasn’;t really [his]thing”.

300: Rise of an Empire is scheduled to be released internationally on August 2, 2013.

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