When Will Gladiator 2 Hit The Cinemas?

By Olivia Emily

2 weeks ago

Plus: everything we can expect from Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated film


When Gladiator 2 finally arrives in cinemas, more than 24 years will have passed since the first film debuted – and smashed the box office. A historical drama of epic proportions, it’s sure to rekindle thoughts and feelings about the Roman Empire in all who watch. What else can we expect from the movie? Here’s the rundown, plus a first look at the trailer.

Gladiator 2: Plot, Cast, Release Date & More

 

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The star-studded 2000 film Gladiator was an instant classic, grossing a whopping $465.4 million at the box office, surpassed only by Mission: Impossible 2 in 2000. Directed by Ridley Scott and written by David Franzoni, John Logan and William Nicholson, the film stars an ensemble of Hollywood heavyweights, including Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Tomas Arana, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, John Shrapnel, Richard Harris, and Tommy Flanagan. It wasn’t just a commercial success but a critical one, too: Gladiator bagged five Oscars from 12 nominations, as well as two Golden Globes and the BAFTA Award for Best Film.

Naturally looking to keep the momentum moving, a Gladiator follow-up – whether that was a sequel or a prequel – has been toyed with since as early as June 2001. But the idea seemed to get stuck in production purgatory, with DreamWorks eventually selling the rights to Paramount in 2006. Flash forward to 2018 and director Scott had some good news to share: Gladiator 2 was really, actually, finally happening. By 2023, actor of the moment Paul Mescal had been cast in the lead role and David Scarpa had completed the script. Filming commenced in June 2023 but, like most films of late, was disrupted by SAG-AFTRA strikes; filming eventually wrapped in January 2024.

 

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The Trailer Has Landed

Watch it below…

What Is Gladiator 2 About?

Commencing around 25–30 years after the conclusion of Gladiator, the sequel centres on Lucius Verus (Paul Mescal, played by Spencer Treat Clark in the first film). The former heir to the Empire, Lucius hasn’t been seen for 15 years, living in the wilderness with no connection to his mother, Lucilla (Connie Nielsen reprising her role from the first film), who now believes he is dead.

Other than that tidbit, plot details have been kept mostly under wraps – though some snippets have slipped out of recent test screenings. One plot line is that Lucius returns to civilisation seeking revenge after his wife is murdered, heading to the colosseum to challenge the former slave who killed her, played by Denzel Washington. We also know the film will feature very violent baboons and a rhino. Overall, the sequel has been described as similar to the first film, though not in a bad way, with viewers describing the film as ‘special’ despite being ‘a pretty simple revenge story’.

 

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Is There A Trailer?

No trailer just yet. The first is slated to be released in July 2024.

That said, a selection of US cinema owners have already seen the much-anticipated trailer, which was shown at CinemaCon. According to Variety, ‘Gladiator 2 recaptures the first film’s epic sprawl and shattering action sequences. The teaser saw Mescal face off against a charging rhino, a horde of vicious baboons, and Pedro Pascal, among other threats to his chiseled physique. There were also naval bombardments, political intrigue aplenty — and a pair of diabolical emperors who seem even crazier than Joaquin Phoenix’s unhinged monarch from the first film.’

Who Stars?

  • Paul Mescal as Lucius Verus, the former heir to the Empire
  • Denzel Washington as a former slave-turned-wealthy merchant with a grudge against the emperors 
  • Pedro Pascal as a former military commander forced to fight as a gladiator in punishment for his insubordination
  • Connie Nielsen reprising her role as Lucilla, the mother of Lucius
  • Derek Jacobi reprising his role as Senator Gracchus, a member of the Roman Senate
  • Joseph Quinn as co-emperor Caracalla
  • Fred Hechinger as co-emperor Geta (you might remember seeing Barry Keoghan training for this role, but this The White Lotus alum snapped up the role after Keoghan had to depart due to scheduling conflicts)
  • Lior Raz
  • Peter Mensah
  • Matt Lucas
  • May Calamawy
  • Tim McInnerny
  • Alexander Karim
Paul Mescal as Connell in Normal People

Paul Mescal as Connell in Normal People. © Enda Bowe/Hulu

Why Paul Mescal?

Why was this Irish actor – best known for his melancholic romance performances – selected by Ridley Scott for the lead role in Gladiator 2? Because Scott watched Normal People, Mescal’s breakout performance, around the same time Scarpa completed the script for the film. While more established actors like Austin Butler, Richard Madden and Miles Teller were considered to play Lucius, Scott clearly saw something special in Mescal’s Connell Waldron, reportedly believing he could deliver a performance as good as Russell Crowe’s in the original movie.

‘Can I see Paul Mescal being as big as Russell Crowe? For sure,’ Scott told Total Film. ‘I watched Normal People. It’s not my kind of show but I saw four episodes in a row – boom, boom, boom. I was thinking, “Who the hell is this Paul Mescal?”

‘And then I watched the whole series,’ Scott said. ‘And then, suddenly, Gladiator 2 came up, because the script was working pretty well. And I kept thinking about Paul. And that was it.’

Russell Crowe in Gladiator (2000).

Russell Crowe in Gladiator (2000). © Dreamworks & Universal Pictures

Why Isn’t Russell Crowe Involved?

The easy answer is thus: because his character, Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius, dies at the end of the first film. That said, plots involving Maximum were played with for many years to keep Crowe in the midst, including one script involving the resurrection of the character and another (written by Nick Cave, no less) that sees Maximus in purgatory before being resurrected as an immortal eternal warrior for the Roman gods. In that draft, Maximus is sent to Earth and tasked with ending Christianity by killing Jesus and his disciples, before fighting amongst the Crusades, WWII, and the Vietnam War, ending with him working in the modern-day Pentagon. Yikes.

In the end, Crowe’s involvement was abandoned – but the actor isn’t exactly happy about it. On the US podcast Kyle Meredith With…, Crowe recently said: ‘I’m slightly uncomfortable, the fact that they’re making another one, you know? Because of course, I’m dead, and I have no say in what gets done.

‘A couple of things that I’ve heard, I’m like, “No, no, no. That’s not in the moral journey of that particular character,”’ Crowe added. ‘But you know, I can’t say anything. That’s not my place. I’m six feet under. So we’ll see what that is like.’

Looking back on the first film, Crowe added: ‘I reflect back on the age I was when I made that film and all the things that came after it and the doors that particular movie opened for me. So there’s definitely a tinge – and this is just being purely honest – a tinge of melancholy, a tinge of jealousy. Because I remember when I had tendons.’

Where Was It Filmed?

Gladiator 2 was filmed in Ouarzazate, Morocco and Malta, with production receiving nearly €47 million in tax rebates from the European nation, setting a record for the largest rebate for a film produced in the European Union. Additional filming also took place at the Devil’s Dyke in the South Downs, Sussex.

Gladiator 2 Release Date

Gladiator 2 will arrive in cinemas on 15 November 2024.