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After more than two years of being referred to alternately as Xerxes and Battle of Artemisia, the follow-up to Legendary Pictures’ hit 2007 film 300 finally officially has a title — 300: Rise of an Empire.
Directed by Noam Murro from a script by 300 collaborators Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad, the film is supposedly based on Xerxes, the upcoming Dark Horse miniseries by Frank Miller described as “a sweeping tale with gods and warriors” that takes place 10 years before Thermopylae, beginning with the legendary Battle of Marathon. However, recent indications are that the feature instead will follow the series of naval engagements that took place simultaneously with the more famous Battle of Thermopylae depicted in 300.
That murkiness is why, depending on the day and the news source, the now-named Rise of an Empire is characterized alternately as a prequel, a sequel or a follow-up. Rodrigo Santiago, who’ll reprise his role as the Persian god-king Xerxes, dubbed the movie a “spinoff,” clarifying in May that, “It takes place in the same time, you start a little earlier but then you see that it’s like a different point of view, a different camera, a different angle. While that battle was happening, the one that you saw in 300, there was another battle happening next to it and you will have a chance to see all of that happening and how they interact. I don’t want to ruin it.”
The film, which opens Aug. 2, 2013, also stars Eva Green, Joel Edgerton, Sullivan Stapleton, Jamie Blackley and Jack O’Connell.