The Big Picture

  • Explore a corrupt world of gladiatorial combat in Ancient Rome in sword-and-sandal series
    Those About to Die
    on Peacock.
  • Emmerich’s passion project stars Anthony Hopkins and promises high danger and excitement as gladiators clash, blood flows, and political intrigue unfolds.
  • Dive into the seedy underbelly of entertainment, political maneuvering, and Roman dynasties using the Coliseum to further their own ends.

As WWE WrestleMania XL comes to a close, it’s time to enter a new ring of combat. Independence Day director Roland Emmerich‘s sword-and-sandal series Those About to Die debuted a new teaser during the event that introduces the complex and corrupt world of gladiatorial combat in Ancient Rome with a little help from Roman emperor Vespasian, played by two-time Academy Award winner Sir Anthony Hopkins. Fittingly, all 10 episodes of the series are set to release on Peacock on Thursday, July 18, just over a week before the Summer Olympic Games in Paris begin on July 26.

Developed by Robert Rodat and directed by Emmerich and Marco Kreuzpaintner, Those About to Die explores the seedy underbelly of gladiatorial competition, where entertainment for the masses, political maneuvering, and Roman dynasties all intertwine. The outward goal is to give the audience the blood and sport they crave through any means necessary. Beneath the spectacle, however, all sorts of characters from throughout the Empire use the Coliseum as a venue to further their own ends. The series promises high danger and excitement as gladiators clash and blood flows in this world of corruption and death, all as the struggle to succeed the aging emperor rages on.

The teaser is narrated by Hopkins, who sets the stage for the bloodsport to come. As flashes of warriors with swords, shields, and bows go past, he recounts how the battles in the arena are just as much a part of the history of war as clashes on the field and verbal spars and subterfuge behind closed doors. While it sounds as if he’s addressing the people of Rome for the games begin, his words also reflect the political intrigue going on behind the scenes. There will be no shortage of action in Emmerich and Rodat’s series, however, as a final shot shows horses and chariots storming through the arena while warriors fight with fury and grace.

‘Those About to Die’ Was a Passion Project for Emmerich

Image via Peacock

In addition to Hopkins, Those About to Die features an expansive cast including Iwan Rheon, Sara Martins, Tom Hughes, Jojo Macari, Moe Hashim, Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Rupert Penry-Jones, Gabriella Pession, Dimitri Leonidas, Emilio Sakraya, David Wurawa, Pepe Barroso, Gonçalo Almeida, Eneko Sagardoy, and Romana Maggiora Vergano. Emmerich’s latest foray into television pulls from the 1958 non-fiction novel of the same name by Daniel Mannix and pulls the director back down to Earth after 2022 saw the release of his sci-fi disaster film Moonfall. The idea of creating a Roman Empire epic has stuck with him for some time, however. In a previous interview with Collider’s Steve Weintraub, Emmerich revealed he had his sights set on helming Gladiator until he found that Ridley Scott had already beaten him to the punch.

Those About to Die finally gives him the chance to explore his vision for the sword and sandal genre. Emmerich shared in an official statement both his deep interest in the Roman Empire and his appreciation for Mannix’s novel that encouraged him to create the series:

“I have always been fascinated by the history of the Roman Empire. So much still seems relevant for our society today – from the entanglement of politics and sports to the disciplines of the competitions, which haven’t changed much either over the last 2000 years. The most electrifying spectacles for the masses still involve two men in an arena, beating each other up, and the chariots of today are called race cars whose drivers still crash and often pay with their lives.

When my partners
Gianni Nunnari
Harald Kloser
put Daniel Mannix’s
Those About to Die
on my reading list, I was immediately hooked. My goal was to create a show that explores a side of Rome never told before – the dirty business of entertaining the masses, giving the mob what they want most… blood and sport. Let the games begin.”

Those About to Diepremieres all ten episodes on Peacock on Thursday, July 18. Check out the first teaser below.

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