Roland Emmerich Set to Work on New Gladiator Drama

Peacock has announced a straight-to-series order for a gladiator drama that Roland Emmerich will direct. Titled Those About To Die, the series is “a large-scale drama set within the spectacular, complex and corrupt world of gladiatorial sports in Ancient Rome. The series introduces an ensemble of diverse characters across the many layers of Roman society where sports, politics and business intersect and collide.” The book of the same name by author Daniel Mannix is the basis for the series.

“Those About To Die takes on Ancient Rome in a completely new way. While the series will be epic in scope and have the spectacle of gladiators and chariot racing, it also has unexpected characters amidst palace intrigue and a dark criminal underworld,” said Lisa Katz, president of scripted content at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

Emmerich is best known for his work on disaster movies, such as Independence Day and its sequel. His most recent movie was Moonfall, about two astronauts and a conspiracy theorist who need to prevent the moon from crashing into Earth. Given the low box office numbers and critical reviews, the movie was a disaster of an entirely different nature.

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“The powerful Roman Empire has always fascinated me, especially its enormous games which entertained the masses through spectacle at the monumental Colosseum,” Emmerich says. “At its heart, this is a sports epic led by strong and diverse characters who explore paths to glory, falls from grace and a need to belong to something greater than oneself. Sports in these ancient times were as thrilling and massive then as they are today, and I’m excited to collaborate with my partners, Peacock, High End Productions, Hollywood Gang and AGC Studios, in bringing this rich world of blood, sweat and tears to television.”

According to IMDb, Emmerich was a writer and actor for the TV movie Altosax, though the plot summary was unavailable. He was an executive producer and writer on The Visitor, which was about a man who disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle returning to save the Earth. He served as an executive producer on Godzilla: The Series, the animated series based on Emmerich’s 1998 remake. He also served as the director, executive producer, and writer on the tv movie Dark Horse, about an undergraduate who investigates a conspiracy concerning his father.

Besides directing, Emmerich will also executive produce Those About To Die. Other executive producers include Lourdes Diaz, Stuart Ford, Jonas Bauer, Martin Moszkowicz, Herbert G. Kloiber, Oliver Berben, Gianni Nunnari, and Harald Kloser. Robert Rodat will serve as showrunner.

This project is from AGC Studios, while Centropolis Entertainment, Hollywood Gang Productions, and Street Entertainment will produce it. High End Productions, a company that Constantin Film and Herbert G. Kloiber set up in order to produce premium European fiction series for the international market, has acquired the distribution right in Europe. They will also co-finance Those About To Die along with Peacock.