EXCLUSIVE: While he has been eyeing other projects that include a coming of age Merlin movie at Disney, Ridley Scott has begun forward progress on a sequel to Gladiator, the 2000 film which garnered 11 Oscar nominations and five wins including Best Picture and Best Actor for Russell Crowe. While Crowe’s Maximus character met his end in the classic original film, Gladiator 2 will follow the continuing story of Lucius, the son of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), The youth was the nephew of Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), the weaselly son of Roman leader Marcus Aurelius who murdered his father seized the throne and wound up in the gladiator ring with Maximus, who though mortally wounded, skewered the emperor before fading into the great beyond to reunite with his slain wife and son. Maximus saved the boy and his mother while avenging his own family, and left a strong impression on the young Lucius.

DreamWorks
DreamWorks

The original was made by DreamWorks and distributed by Universal. Sources said the charge here is being led by Scott and his Scott Free banner. Oscar nominated for the first film, Scott wants to direct the film, and they are setting Peter Craig, whose credits include The Town and two Hunger Games films, as well as 12 Strong and the upcoming Top Gun: Maverick. He also just turned in the script for the remake of Logan’s Run to Warner Bros, Simon Kinberg and Joel Silver, and is just finishing adapting Stags for Fox 2000.

Sources said Paramount will be the studio developing the project, and Universal has the option to co-finance. DreamWorks is out of it. Crowe’s Maximus is a tough act to follow, but the brutal world of Roman gladiators is so compelling, who wouldn’t be entertained by another plunge into that world?

Scott Free will produce with Red Wagon’s Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher and Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald of Parkes + MacDonald.

DreamWorks

Scott right now is directing his first ever TV series, Raised By Wolves, for TNT. He’ll shoot in South Africa. He has several feature projects percolating, including the Scarlett Johansson-starrer drama about photojournalist Lyndsey Addario, and a potential film about the formative years of the wizard Merlin. Gladiator 2 could happen very quickly, but it will take time to come together. If I were betting, I’d lay it on the Merlin film, which is at Disney. Chris Weitz is rewriting that one and Scott and Gil Netter are producing.

Craig is repped by CAA and Grandview, Scott by WME.