Filmmaker Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) is set to executive produce a gladiator series with his Chinese partner, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Emmerich traveled to Shanghai to meet his financing partners and to speak about the future of the science fiction industry.
During a press conference hosted by the Chinese company Er Dong Pictures, Emmerich revealed the upcoming period TV series Those About to Die, set in the world of the Roman gladiators.
The series is based on a Daniel P. Mannix’s historical book of the same name and according to producers, the intent is to explore “a side of Rome never before told — the dirty business of entertaining the masses, giving the mob what they want most … blood and sport.”
According to Mannix’s book synopsis: “In a vast marble Colosseum larger than Yankee Stadium, the people of Rome, patrician, and commoner flocked to see gladiators mangled beneath the hoofs and wheels of horses and chariots, slaughtered by half-starved wild beasts, and butchered by well-armed and armored professionals. With the Empire in decline, death and torture became the only spectacles that satisfied the decadent Romans’ longing. The Emperor Trajan gave one set of games that lasted 122 days; at its end, 11,000 people and 10,000 animals had been killed. The people of Rome loved it-and they wanted more.”
The series will be produced by Emmerich’s own Centropolis Entertainment, Kloser’s Street Entertainment, and Nunnari’s Hollywood Ganga Productions. It’s still unknown whether Emmerich may also direct the show. Gianni Nunnari (300, The Departed) and Harald Kloser (Midway, Independence Day: Resurgence) will also serve as producers. Er Dong Pictures has not yet revealed its involvement as financier and co-producer of the series.
China’s Er Dong Pictures has signed a 12-film co-funding deal with Starlight Culture Entertainment, a film investment company based in Hong Kong and Los Angeles, which signed first-look deals with Emmerich and other major Hollywood directors, including Jon M. Chu and James Wan, in 2017. Starlight also signed a deal with Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians).
Emmerich will release the WWII action film Midway, on November 8. Midway was mostly financed with Chinese funds. Emmerich also directed the sci-fi epic Moonfall, which was acquired by Universum at Cannes, Deadline reports.