When Zack Snyder’s 300 came out in 2007 it became the definition of unexpected smash hit. Made for a modest $65 million and featuring a cast lacking in A-listers, the film broke March opening records and ultimately made more than $450 million at the global box office. It’s sequel, 300: Rise of an Empire, has been a long time coming, but now it’s just about ready to blow the universe of 300 wide open.

Telling a different tale set parallel to the Spartan story seen in the first movie, the sequel follows the story of Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton), an Athenian warrior charged not just with defending his people from the invading Persian armies, but also try to unite the Greek City-States to unite against what seems to be an overwhelming force. At the same time, we also learn the history of the great Greek-Persian conflict and the rebirth of Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) as he becomes the God-King of Persia.

Last week I had the chance to attend a press event held in Los Angeles for 300: Rise of an Empire and had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one with the film’s director, Noam Murro. During our conversation he revealed a number of interesting stories and details behind the making of the new film, all of which you can read more about below!

300: Rise of an Empire Zack Snyder
Zack Snyder Would Have Directed 300: Rise Of An Empire Himself Had It Not Been For Man of Steel
The first 300 was such a big success when it came out in 2007 – making $456 million worldwide – that talks about a sequel started up almost immediately… but it still took forever to actually get the follow-up made. While comic book writer Frank Miller worked on a new graphic novel to base the movie on, Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad put together a screenplay, and producers like Mark Canton and Gianni Nunnari never lost hope, still the project seemed lost in development hell without a director attached. Things actually nearly got to the point where Snyder was considering just jumping back in the director’s chair and making the movie himself, but then the rebirth of a certain superhero got in the way of that.

When I asked Noam Murro about his pitch for 300: Rise of an Empire that he brought to the producers and the studio to get the job, the director revealed that before he came around there had been some thought that Snyder would just be making the movie himself, but that those plans changed when Snyder signed on to make Man of Steel. With the blockbuster director’s attention focused elsewhere, the door was opened for Murro’s ideas on how to approach the sequel.

"We had a great meeting and we did a bunch of very cool presentations for the studio," Murro said. "There was a specificity to how do you advance the 300, you know, that is a very complicated assignment, because on one hand you have to keep your ties to this incredible piece, but at the same time, you have to make something new. So there were thematic things already that were quite interesting."

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