Five years ago the news broke that 300 producers Gianni Nunnari and Mark Canton had picked up the rights to Conn Iggulden's Emperor novels, about the rise and fall of Julius Caesar. The rest was silence, but the story has finally come back around, with the epic project now finding a home at Hunger Games studio Lionsgate.
Iggulden began his Emperor series with The Gates Of Rome back in 2003, and it currently stretches to five novels. The saga begins with Caesar and Marcus Brutus as boys, and follows their rise through the Roman Empire and the machinations that lead to "Et tu, Brute?" and the endgame at the Senate. The fifth book, The Blood Of Gods, published several years after the others in 2013, deals with Mark Antony and Gaius Octavius' revenge on Caesar's assassins.
The first film in the projected franchise stays with Julius and Marcus long enough to see them making waves and regarded as threats within the Roman political establishment. The screenplay is currently credited to Burr Steers (Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, Igby Goes Down), executive producer William Broyles Jr. (Cast Away, Apollo 13), Ian MacKenzie Jeffers (The Grey) and TV writer Stephen Harrigan. Nigel Sinclair and Guy East (Rush, End Of Watch) are also producing under their White Horse Pictures banner, along with Matt Jackson.
“Combining the sweep of 300 with the intrigue of Game of Thrones, this is the part of the story of the mighty Julius Caesar that nobody knows," said Canton and Nunnari in a joint statement. "[We follow] his emergence alongside Brutus as young powerhouses in Rome, a fresh and contemporary retelling of their rivalries, passions and jealousies, captured in a movie with breath-taking action, spectacular visual effects and epic scope.”
“We’re thrilled to be working with Lionsgate on an epic motion picture event with the potential to create a new multi-picture franchise," says Sinclair, "and we’re delighted to have Mark, Gianni and Matt bringing to the film their experience in creating sweeping historical sagas of vision and scope.”
Steers was attached to direct in 2010, but seems now either to have lost the gig or moved on. So the next job for all involved is to find the right person to orchestrate the historical action.
Iggulden's novels are published in the UK by HarperCollins.