Action movie maestro Olivier Megaton is directing a remake of Spartacus– except this time, the gladiators are in space.
Ok, fine, 2017’s The Champion isn’t explicitly a remake of Stanley Kubrik’s iconic Roman slave-revolt picture, but it appears that screenwriter Hal Ozsan’s sci fi combat saga is taking a lot of inspiration from the Kurt Douglas sweaty swords-and-sandals flick.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Champion tells of a man falsely imprisoned for an act of terrorism who must battle through the prison’s gladiator program to regain his freedom.” Sounds just like Spartacus, right? That is, if you’re comparing an uncooperative slave in the Roman Empire to a man falsely accused of terrorist activity. Yikes.
The original 1960 Spartacus was directed by Stanley Kubrick, the man behind classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and The Shining. So, via Kubrick, this new project has a pretty small degree of separation from science fiction, at least. At its time, the original Spartacus was the most expensive film to have ever been made in Hollywood history. It utilized a cast of over 10,000 people, including Kirk Douglas as the title character.
In his 2012 book, I Am Spartacus! Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist, Douglas said: “When I look back on Spartacus today, more than 50 years after the fact, I am amazed it ever happened at all.” Douglas didn’t get along with the film’s first director, Anthony Mann, whom he eventually fired. Both refused to work with one another ever again. Kubrick had his hands full coming into that one.
Fast-forward to The Champion, a film inspired by Spartacus set for filming in early 2017. How do you take something as epic and classic as Spartacus, with its rich Hollywood history and A-list cast (which included not only Douglas, but also Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, and Charles Laughton), and turn it into a futuristic sci-fi adventure? It’s not a remake per se, but in the ways that count, it pretty much is.
The real question here, though: Will these futuristic gladiators still kind of look like Jason Momoa as Aquaman?