Producer Mark Canton Talks 300: BATTLE OF ARTEMISIA, PIRANHA 3DD, and an Epic Julius Caesar Film (EMPEROR) to Be Directed by Burr Steers

     October 31, 2011

Producer Mark Canton 300 Sequel 300:BATTLE OF ARTEMISIA interview slice

Fans have been itching to see a follow-up to Zack Snyder’s 2006 battle epic 300 for quite some time now. After years of wondering if and when we’d ever see a return to the blood-soaked, slow-motion infused world of 300, things are finally coming together for 300: Battle for ArtemisiaNoam Murro (Smart People) is set to direct, and the film is poised to tell the story of Xerxes’ rise to power, punctuated by the epic naval Battle of Artemisium.

Steve recently got the chance to speak with producer Mark Canton for Tarsem Singh’s upcoming Immortals, and Canton gave an update on the 300 follow-up. He commented on the screenplay, the story, and revealed the chances of seeing some of the characters from the original 300 pop up in Battle of Artemisia. Additionally, Canton talked about some of his upcoming projects, including an epic potential franchise-starter project called Emperor that tells the story of young Caesar.  Burr Steers (Charlie St. Cloud) is onboard to direct. Hit the jump for all the details.

xerxes_comic_book_image_frank_miller_01Regarding 300: Battle of Artemisia, Canton revealed that the project is indeed moving forward:

“We have a great director, Noam Murro. Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstead have written an absolutely awesome screenplay and we’re working on moving forward with Warner Bros. and Legendary, and it’s getting serious. And it’s not a sequel or a prequel… it’s another story in the 300 universe, and it’s pretty great.”

While everyone seems intent on stressing that the follow-up is its own story separate from 300, Canton remains optimistic that we’ll be seeing some familiar faces:

“There’s a plan and—look it’s about the story. In the story that Frank [Miller] and Zack and Kurt Johnstead have fashioned, the likelihood is we’ll see some of those favorites again.”

Additionally, Canton is putting together a pretty epic take on Julius Caesar called Emperor. The film, which Canton sees as a possible franchise, will focus on young Caesar and young Brutus. The tone? Braveheart meets Twilight:

“[Producer] Gianni (Nunnari) and I are gonna do this epic young Caesar movie that’s gonna be really cool. It’s about Caesar when he was young, based on four books. We’re doing it with Nigel Sinclair’s company and Burr Steers is gonna direct and we’re out and about working on it right now… the script is almost finished. It’s gonna be really great, young Caesar and young Brutus.”

Emperor certainly sounds ambitious. It’s a pretty massive undertaking for Steers, whose previous directorial credits include 17 Again and Charlie St. Cloud. I didn’t hate either of those films (though St. Cloud is definitely a misfire), and Steers has a pretty good eye so I’m definitely interested to hear more about the project.

Here’s the interview, followed by a transcript.  Look for Steve’s full interview with Canton next week.

Collider: One of the projects that I know has been talked about for a long time is a sequel/prequel to 300. What’s the status of that project?

Canton: It’s in process. When we last met it was something that we hoped to have in process, now it is in process. We have a director, great Noam Murro. Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstead have written an absolutely awesome screenplay and we’re working on moving forward with Warner Bros. and Legendary, and it’s getting serious. And it’s not a sequel or a prequel.

It’s a separate story.

Canton: It’s another story in the 300 universe, and it’s pretty great.

Are there characters from 300 that could make an appearance?

Canton: Possibly.

Is it one of those things where it’s up to the actor as to whether or not they want to come back?

Canton: No. I mean of course, ultimately if an actor doesn’t want to come back they won’t be in the movie. But there’s a plan and—look it’s about the story. In the story that Frank and Zack and Kurt Johnstead have fashioned, the likelihood is we’ll see some of those favorites again.

One of the things about 300 and this project is the way CGI and practical has all been mixed together. For the follow-up, are you guys planning on using the similar technology or are you thinking about more practical sets? Or is it too early to tell?

Canton: It’s too early to tell. We’ve hired our director, now it’s his time to have his vision and for us to follow that and help it work.

piranha_3d_movie_poster_01You’re also producing Piranha 3DD. How is that going?

Canton: It’s coming along. It’s gonna have a lot of bite in it.

(Laughs) We posted the trailer and it did very well on the site. Are you sort of surprised by the interest?

Canton: I always thought the first one should have been a massive hit, and it did well. I think that this franchise is gonna stick around.

What’s the status on Freelancers?

Canton: That’s a movie that’s been shot that I helped—Randall Emmett and George Furla made and I helped them put the movie together. That’s shot, and they just announced The Tomb, the picture I’m doing with Sylvester Stallone, and Gianni (Nunnari) and I are gonna do this epic young Caesar movie that’s gonna be really cool. It’s about Caesar when he was young, based on four books. We’re doing it with Nigel Sinclair’s company and Burr Stears is gonna direct and we’re out and about working on it right now.

So you’re working on the script as we speak?

Canton: Script is almost finished. It’s gonna be really great, young Caesar and young Brutus.

Do you envision this as like a multiple film thing?

Canton: Multiple film franchise. [It’s] Braveheart meets Twilight. It’s gonna be very cool.

That’s an interesting mix, I like it. Do you have a title?

Canton: We’re calling it Emperor.

julius-caesar-image

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