August 21, 2001 -- Winning five Oscars and amassing more than $450 million worldwide may not be enough for the producers of Gladiator. Since a sequel is out of the question — unless it takes place in the afterlife — talk is centering around a prequel to the bloody epic.
The question seems not to be whether or not to do the prequel, but whether star Russell Crowe, who won a Best Actor Oscar for playing the noble Maximus, would consent to revisit his star-making role.
Producer Douglas Wick says a follow-up to the Best Picture Oscar winner is "certainly something being discussed, but there's been no decision made." Indicating perhaps that Maximus might be recast, Wick tells Movieheadlines.net, "We're looking at lots of options. Russell has a lot of voltage on-screen."
Rumors of a prequel, which would likely focus on Maximus' early soldiering days and his romance with Lucilla, have been circulating for a while, with reports surfacing as far back as May that Crowe was being offered $20 million to step back into Maximus' leather skirt.
It's doubtful that Ridley Scott, who turned over the Alien franchise to other directors, would return to the director's chair. There's always budding director Crowe himself, who is committed to helm the World War II pic The Long Green Shore.
Wick also tells Entertainment Weekly, "You don't finally do something like that unless you have a dazzling story to tell. What we certainly won't do is some shadow of the first one to grind out a few bucks."
Speaking of grinding out a few bucks from successful films where sequels are no longer possible, Hollywood is turning to prequels. Right now, prequels to two horror classics that have already been sequelized plenty — Silence of the Lambs and The Exorcist — are under way.
A prequel for another of this year's Oscar winners, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is said to be in the works by director Ang Lee, focusing on the love story between Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat's characters.
Trainspotting Author Readies Sequel In other film franchise news, Scottish writer Irvine Welsh, whose darkly humorous drug novel Trainspotting was turned into the groundbreaking 1996 film of the same name, is penning a follow-up with the same characters. Porno would find Renton, Spud, Sick Boy, and Begbie 10 years hence, with Sick Boy now working as a pornographer (hence the title). Frankly, we're surprised these guys would still be alive 10 years later.
Welsh tells the BBC that he doubts that the same actors would be reassembled for the film, saying at the Edinburgh film festival that it would be "interesting to see how other people played their parts." The film launched the careers of Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle, who've since gone on to star in the Star Wars and James Bond franchises, respectively.
Acid House, another Welsh book, was also brought to the screen, but without the critical or commercial success of Trainspotting.