By Dan Lawrence | Published
Roland Emmerich is well known for directing large-scale blockbuster films such as Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrowand 2012. Emmerich doesn’t do things by halves, and he is now set to bring his trademark large-scale, high-octane and bombastic creative flair to the world of television for the very first time. Variety reports that Peacock has given a straight-to-series order to Those About to Diewith the independence day director set to helm the series centering on Roman Gladiator culture.
Those About to Die is based on a nonfiction book of the same name written by Daniel Mannix. The series will be written and produced by Robert Rodat, who has Saving Private Ryan in his back catalog, adding another ingredient into the mix for this new Gladiator show that points towards it being an action-packed thriller. As well as directing the series, Roland Emmerich will be producing Those About to Die. The series will take audiences on a story through the multi-layered society of Roman Gladiator combat, bringing together the worlds of society, politics, and culture into one of the most violent battle arenas in human history. A broad spectrum of diverse characters will navigate this seedy, violent, and corrupt world.
Given that Roland Emmerich has never ventured into television work before, Those About to Die is a landmark moment in his career, and the veteran director had this to say regarding why he is so excited to bring this gladiator-inspired series to life; “The powerful Roman Empire has always fascinated me, especially its enormous games which entertained the masses through spectacle at the monumental Colosseum-“I’m excited to collaborate with my partners, Peacock, High End Productions, Hollywood Gang, and AGC Studios, in bringing this rich world of blood, sweat, and tears to television.”
Roland Emmerich’s excitement was echoed by Lisa Katz, president of scripted content for NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. NBCUniversal is of course the parent company behind streaming service Peacock and Katz had this to say about the new gladiator series coming to the platform; “Those About To Die takes on Ancient Rome in a completely new way.” Katz added, “While the series will be epic in scope and have the spectacle of gladiators and chariot racing, it also has unexpected characters amidst palace intrigue and a dark criminal underworld.”
independence day may have gone down as one of the biggest and best films in modern times, but Roland Emmerich’s recent products have been far less successful. Emmerich’s last film, Moonfall, starring the likes of Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson saw a group of heroes fighting to prevent the Moon from crashing into the earth. The film suffered a paltry 36% Critics Score on Rotten Tomatoes and only grossed $44 million at the worldwide box office and had a $190 million budget, making it a certified flop. NBCUniversal will be hoping the gladiator series Those About to Die will be a return to form for Emmerich.
Those About to Die could potentially have some gladiator competition for audiences’ attention thanks to Ridley Scott. As far back as last year, GIANT FREAKIN ROBOT learned that Scott is set on creating a sequel to the Oscar-Winning Russell Crowe-led film Gladiator. Gladiator 2 is said to be Scott’s next project as soon as he is wrapped up on his Napoleon film, rumored to be released in 2023. That puts a Gladiator sequel release date at around 2025 at the earliest and given that Those About to Die has just been greenlit by Peacock, the Roland Emmerich project may just beat Ridley Scott to audiences’ screens. Emmerich will be hoping his television debut can rival Gladiator in both scale and success.
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