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SYFY WIRE Those About to Die

Roland Emmerich & Peacock head to ancient Rome with new gladiator series ‘Those About to Die’

Emmerich is set to direct the 'gladiatorial epic,' in which ‘sports, politics, and business intersect’

By Benjamin Bullard
Roland Emmerich

Peacock and Roland Emmerich are getting in the ring — the Roman gladiators’ ring, that is. The streamer and the legendary sci-fi director (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, Moonfall) are arming up for an episodic peek into the bloody ancient past with Those About to Die, a new series inspired by the very same book that served as the basis for Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning 2000 spectacle Gladiator.

Peacock just revealed it's made a straight-to-series order for the new show, “a large-scale drama set within the spectacular, complex, and corrupt world of gladiatorial sports in Ancient Rome,” according to the streamer. Billed as a “gladiatorial epic,” the series “introduces an ensemble of diverse characters across the many layers of Roman society where sports, politics, and business intersect and collide.”

Via his Centopolis Entertainment banner, Emmerich will executive produce and direct the new series, which takes its title directly from the 1958 nonfiction book by the late Daniel P. Mannix about the bread-and-circuses bloodsport. 

High End Productions and Peacock are backing the show, which will be written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot), who also serves as an executive producer alongside Harald Kloser (2012, Independence Day: Resurgence, Midway), Gianni Nunnari (The Departed, 300), Oliver Berben, Herbert G. Kloiber, Martin Moszkowicz, and Jonas Bauer. The series comes from Studio AGC Television with Centropolis Entertainment, Hollywood Gang, and Street Entertainment Producing; AGC CEO Stuart Ford and chief content officer Lourdes Diaz will also serve as executive producers.

It’s a grand stage for Emmerich, one that explores the violent and intriguing ancient society that mingled politics with pitched battle. “The powerful Roman Empire has always fascinated me, especially its enormous games which entertained the masses through spectacle at the monumental Colosseum,” the director confessed in a Peacock press release. 

“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.”

There’s no early word on when Those About to Die is expected to enter the arena with its Peacock debut, nor on any early casting moves (though we’ve definitely got some killer ideas of our own if the streamer needs any help). For Emmerich, the series comes fresh in the wake of this year’s sci-fi disaster epic Moonfall starring Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson, which you can check out now at your on-demand platform of choice.