UPDATE: Principal photography began today on Brett Ratner's "Hercules," which is slated for July 2014. The MGM and Paramount film stars the ubiquitous and Herculean-proportioned Dwayne Johnson (who toplined "Fast & Furious 6," "G.I. Joe Retaliation" and "Pain & Gain" this spring), along with Ian McShane, Joseph Fiennes, Rufus Sewell, Rebecca Ferguson ("The White Queen"), Aksel Hennie ("Headhunters") and John Hurt. "Hercules" is shooting on location in Budapest, Hungary.
Adapted by Ryan Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos from Radical Studio’s graphic novel “Hercules: The Thracian Wars,” the film is set in a revisionary grounded world without any Greek Gods. Producers are Beau Flynn, Barry Levine and Ratner; executive producers are Peter Berg, Sarah Aubrey and Jesse Berger.
EARLIER: The success of "Gladiator," "300" and HBO's "Rome" and "Game of Thrones" have made sword and sandal pictures acceptable again. (Maybe producers should remember "The Immortals," "Alexander," "Prince of Persia," "Troy" and "Clash of the Titans.") Noam Murro's "300: Rise of an Empire," reprising Rodrigo Santoro as Frank Miller's Xerxes, is due August 2. Sony is prepping a major "Cleopatra" starring Angelina Jolie
; Ang Lee is checking out Eric Roth's script.
And TV star Kiefer Sutherland is in final talks to star
as the villain in "Pompeii," a 3-D Roman disaster movie with Paul W.S. Anderson at the helm. So Sutherland will play... Mount Vesuvius?
Kidding aside, the film is set in 79 A.D., days before the infamous volcanic eruption that would level the eponymous city. Sutherland will play a Roman senator who enslaves a village, and forces a local woman (Emily Browning) to marry him, despite her being in love with a fellow slave (played by "Game of Thrones" star Kit Harington, here toplining). Jared Harris (dearly departed Lane Pryce of "Mad Men") will play Harington's master.
Sutherland, star of the current series "Touch," will next be seen in Mira Nair's "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" (April 26); his last feature film was Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" in 2011.
Anderson's last film, "Resident Evil: Retribution," had its champions, and even sparked a critical debate
over whether it was better than Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," released the same weekend last fall.
No updates on whatever happened to Robert Towne-penned cable series "Pompeii.'' Now that we'd want to see.