July 15, 2011 6:24pm PT by Borys Kit
Warner Bros. Chooses Noam Murro to Direct '300' Spin-Off (Exclusive)
Warner Bros. has zeroed in on Noam Murro to direct its 300 spin-off, 300: Battle of Artemisia (formerly known as Xerses).
The Israel-born director, who helmed the 2008 film Smart People, was vying for the gig with Jaum Collet-Serra, the director of this year’s Liam Neeson thriller Unknown. But Warners, which liked both directors, in Solomon-like wisdom divided up gigs for the filmmakers, yesterday handing Collet-Serra the adaptation of Akira. An official offer to Murro is expected to be made early next week.
Artemisia is based on Frank Miller’s upcoming graphic novel that takes Xerxes, the Persian leader who is an antagonist in 300, and turns him into more of a pivotal figure. He's a man in search of godhood after the death of his father, battling an Athenian warlord named Themistocles. The story takes place over the course of several years, but the focal point is the battle of Artemisium, which occured in 480 BC.
Zack Snyder, who directed 300, wrote the script with his 300 partner Kurt Johnstad.
The aim is to shoot Artemisia in the same stylized vein as Snyder did with 300.
Artemisia would be a change of pace for CAA and Management 360-repped Murro, whose Smart People was an indie drama that starred Dennis Quaid as a widower dealing with his adopted brother (Thomas Hayden Church), his overachieving daughter (Ellen Page) and possible new love in the form of Sarah Jessica Parker.
The movie caught Hollywood's eye and got Murro lined up to direct the in-development Die Hard 5 movie.