EXCLUSIVE: The die has been cast for Mark Wahlberg and partner Stephen Levinson, who have signed on to produce the Julius Caesar saga The Roman. It’s an origin story in the vein of Batman Begins that envisions the future dictator as a young general in the Roman army in a rarely discussed period of his life. Kidnapped by Cilician pirates and enslaved on their prison island, Caesar escapes with his men, and the decisions he makes during this time directly affect the political and social upheaval happening in Rome. As Plutarch tells it, Caesar maintained such an air of superiority during his imprisonment that he demanded his captors more than double the ransom they had placed on his life; after he escaped, he made his way back and brutally crucified the perpetrators as he’d vowed he would. Upon his return to Rome, Caesar powered into politics on his way toward ruling the empire.

Travis Baker and Richard Tanne (Cinema Cool) wrote the script and just wrapped their micro-budget indie horror Mischief Night, which After Dark Films and Lionsgate snapped up for a 2014 release. Wahlberg and Levinson will next look to attach a director before taking The Roman out to studios. They’re currently prepping their remake of The Gambler, helmed by Rupert Wyatt with Wahlberg set to star, and last weekend sealed the deal on their Entourage movie with Warner Bros. Both are repped by WME. Baker and Tanne are repped by WME and Dobré Films.