Spartacus TV series set to film in NZ

01:43, Jan 31 2009

New Zealand is set to host another television series produced for American viewers – this time a version of Spartacus for the small screen.

Producers will be looking to cast the gladiators and Roman citizens with a group of fresh-faced, unknown actors, for filming due to start in New Zealand early next year, according to the Hollywood Reporter newspaper.

Starz Entertainment, a big movie provider with over 48 million subscribers on its pay TV channels, recently started moving into production and has just "greenlighted" a 13-episode Spartacus series to be filmed in New Zealand.

The executive producers are Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Joshua Donen, who plan to make an "R-rated" show with a graphic-novel look and feel similar to movies such as 300 and Sin City.

"This is not going to be at all like the 1960s Kirk Douglas film," said Starz Entertainment executive Stephan Shelanski.

"We didn't want your typical sword-and-sandals. It's going to be fun, fast-moving, full of action and interesting characters and have a little more depth to it than the 1960s film."


Spartacus was inspired by the real-life Roman slave who in 73BC led a revolt that grew to more than 120,000 fighters, but Starz said the story will be "re-imagined " for a generation of TV viewers raised on graphic novels and cutting-edge production technology.

Expected to cost over $US2 million ($NZ3.45 million) an episode, the series will be the first drama produced in-house by Starz Media, under the supervision of executive William Hamm.

He was formerly with Raimi's Ghost House Pictures which is producing a "swords and sorcery" series, Legend of the Seeker, at Henderson Valley Studios near Auckland for Disney and ABC.

Tapert previously made Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess in New Zealand, and married Xena actress, Lucy Lawless.