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Snyder returns to the world of ancient Greece for '300' sequel

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   March 4, 2014 at 12:24 AM   |   Comments

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NEW YORK, March 4 (UPI) -- Hollywood filmmaker Zack Snyder says he hadn't really considered making a followup to his 2007 blockbuster "300" until Frank Miller, the author of the graphic novel on which it was based, said he was working on a spinoff.

Snyder co-wrote and directed the first film about the Battle of Thermopylae during the Persian Wars, then co-wrote and produced the sequel "300: Rise of An Empire."

Asked if it had always been his dream to return to the highly stylized world of ancient Greece he created for "300," Snyder told United Press International in a recent phone interview, "Honestly, I don't think it was.

"I think when we finished the movie and the movie had some success, the studio was really like: 'Hey, what's the sequel? What are we doing?' And my response was always like: 'Yeah, they all pretty much died. I don't know what you want from me. A zombie movie? I don't know.'"

Snyder's wife, Deborah, who co-produced both "300" films with him, added: "He always said if Frank ever wrote another graphic novel that he would consider it and I guess it was a couple of years after the film's release and he came to Zack and said: 'Hey, listen, I have this idea. Let me tell you this story.'"

"Once Frank started us down that road, we found ourselves back in the world of '300' with a story to tell and it worked out really great."

Snyder said he and co-writer Kurt Johnstad picked up right where they left off when they started to pen "Rise of An Empire" several years after writing "300."

"It wasn't hard at all. When Kurt and I sat down to write the script, it was just really right. It felt like we were doing it the second we stopped [work on the first one.] It was really quite fun to get back into that world," Snyder said.

Unfortunately, when it came time to shoot the picture, Snyder wasn't available to direct it himself because he was working on another high-profile action-fantasy film, "Man of Steel," so Noam Murro was tapped to take the helm on "Rise of An Empire."

"I was set to direct the movie and then 'Man of Steel' came along and I said: 'Yes, I can't pass it up. We should get someone to take the reins of this movie.' And Debbie had worked with Noam in commercials and I knew of him and when he came in and pitched [his ideas to] us, Debbie always said it reminded her of what I said to the studio when I originally wanted to get '300' made," Snyder explained. "We really thought he was our man. It allowed me a clear conscience while I was off making that other movie."

"The great thing about technology, even though we couldn't be there every day on set, we were looking at dailies and we were doing video conferences with them. In addition to the visual effects, technology really allowed us to make this movie and to stay close to it at the same time," Deborah noted.

The Snyders are busy this week juggling promotional duties for "Rise of An Empire," while they are also in pre-production for the upcoming, unnamed Batman and Superman movie, which will be a sequel to "Man of Steel." The film will feature Henry Cavill again as Superman, along with Ben Affleck as Batman and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.

Snyder said he is confident in his casting of Affleck and Eisenberg and not bothered by the backlash his choices have received from some naysayers on the Internet.

"I think I have a pretty healthy grasp on the talk-back on the Internet," the filmmaker said. "If we cast who the Internet wanted us to, it would be the most boring cast in history. The first person you think of is who they want."

So, how does the couple handle the pressure of being involved in two mega-franchises?

"I think Zack and I feel blessed we actually get to tell stories for a living and we get to do it together. I don't know how much luckier we could be," Deborah replied.

Starring Eva Green, Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro, Sullivan Stapleton and David Wenham, "300: Rise of an Empire" opens nationwide Friday. It follows the Greek general Themistokles as he faces down the massive invading Persian forces, ruled by the mortal-turned-god Xerxes, and led by Artemisia, the vengeful commander of the Persian navy.

© 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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