BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Nov. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. cable network Starz said Monday it has renewed its gritty swords-and-sandals epic "Spartacus" for a third season.
The decision was announced ahead of the planned Jan. 27 premiere of the show's second season, called "Spartacus: Vengeance."
Production on the next season is expected to begin in New Zealand in early 2012.
"There is no denying the impact 'Spartacus' has had in the marketplace with fans across the globe thirsting for the continuation of the epic tale. 'Vengeance' brings unparalleled action and drama to Starz viewers in January. We are thrilled to come to an early agreement that allows the writers and talent to get right back to work in preparing for Season 3," Starz Media Managing Director Carmi Zlotnik said in a statement Monday.
"Many surprises are in store for 'Vengeance' viewers this year, but rest assured the multi-layered plot and richly developed characters will continue to be a trademark of this series," said Rob Tapert, the show's executive producer. "It's incredibly gratifying to see how the story has resonated so well with viewers worldwide."
The most recent chapter of "Spartacus" was the prequel, "Gods of the Arena," which ran in January 2011 and averaged an estimated 6.2 million viewers per episode.
Australian actor Liam McIntyre assumes the title role of Spartacus in "Vengeance." The role was previously played by Andy Whitfield in Season 1, "Spartacus: Blood and Sand."
Whitfield lost his 18-month battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in September. He was 39.