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Ridley Scott On Board For Gladiator Sequel

After nearly two decades, Ridley Scott is bringing us back into the arena. 

Variety reports that the veteran director has begun development on a sequel to his Academy Award-winning 2000 historical drama Gladiator, and distributor Paramount is already along for the ride.

Peter Craig, the scribe behind the final two installments in the Hunger Games series as well as the recent 12 Strong, has been tapped to write the script. Speculation has been swirling for some time about a possible sequel to Scott's classic, which raked in $460 million at the box office (roughly $675 million adjusted to 2018 dollars) and won five Oscars, including a Best Picture statue for star Russell Crowe.

The bulk of the speculation has centered on a supposed lost script for the project commissioned by Scott and penned by musician and occasional screenwriter Nick Cave. Scott's original film famously closes with Crowe's gladiator Maximus departing to the sun-drenched fields of the afterlife, which is exactly where the proposed sequel would have opened — only for Maximus to face new challenges and come into conflict with actual gods later on.

It's not clear whether Craig's script is a reworking of this story, and of course, there's been no mention of Crowe's involvement. But as recently as last year, Scott was apparently intrigued by the idea while speaking about a possible sequel at an SXSW panel. Asked if Crowe might be part of any potential plan, the director said, "I know how to bring [Maximus] back... I was having this talk with the studio — 'but he's dead.' But there is a way of bringing him back. Whether it will happen I don't know. Gladiator was 2000, so Russell's changed a little bit. He's doing something right now but I'm trying to get him back down here."

Either way, with Paramount aboard, the project is now full steam ahead. Original co-distributor Universal has been given the option to co-finance the film; original partner DreamWorks is out of the picture.

Scott has been on a bit of a theatrical roll, with 2015's acclaimed sci-fi drama The Martian and 2017's Alien: Covenant both being well-received. He also recently turned in one of the most heroic feats of reshooting in recent memory. The director somehow managed to seamlessly insert new lead Christopher Plummer into his Netflix original All the Money in the World in just days, replacing the scenes already shot by original lead Kevin Spacey (who was dropped due to multiple sexual assault allegations).

Obviously, Scott is quite comfortable working quickly, so we're likely to have additional details on Gladiator 2 sooner rather than later. In the meantime, get excited — at his best, Scott is nothing short of a masterful filmmaker, and the original is one of his greatest triumphs. He's not apt to take the sequel lightly.