Horror fans, take note. Hellraiser creator Clive Barker has been enlisted by Amazon Studios to rewrite Zombies vs. Gladiators, making it one of only a handful of projects to be developed past the script-submission stage since Amazon’s content development division came into force almost two years ago.
Amazon Studios uses audience feedback to develop original entertainment, and since the division’s launch in November 2010, more than 9,000 movie scripts and 1,000 series pilots have been submitted. Amazon says that there are currently 16 film projects currently underway as a result of these submissions.
It seems that due to the overwhelming popularity of the Zombies vs. Gladiators concept, Amazon is looking to progress the idea with a view towards developing it into a fully-fledged audio-visual project to be consumed by audiences around the world.
Zombies vs. Gladiators…say what?
The Zombies vs. Gladiators story is based in ancient Rome, and opens with a shaman who is about to die in the Coliseum who casts a spell that unleashes the world’s first zombies. It’s up to a gladiator to stop the spread of the zombie masses and save Rome.
Amazon says that from the moment it debuted at Amazon Studios, the idea has been one of the most creatively engaging scripts, soliciting significant interest within the community and among movie fans. Naturally, this served as a huge pulsing beacon to Amazon which is striving for mainstream and commercially viable content for the studio.
“Zombies vs. Gladiators is now in the hands of someone who has written genre-defining material throughout his career,” says Roy Price, Director at Amazon Studios. “We are excited to see how Clive will add his unique narrative to capture the essence of this story and propel the project into something unique and original that could one day be enjoyed by all audiences.”
Barker’s literary pieces include best-selling fantasy works such as Weaveworld, Imajica, and Everville, the children’s novel The Thief of Always, Sacrament, Galilee and Coldheart Canyon. But his legend is perhaps heavily cemented in Hellraiser, a 1987 British horror flick based on his novella The Hellbound Heart. Barker also wrote the screenplay and directed the film.
“I’m excited by the opportunity to interweave two very rich narrative threads,” says Barker. “One of them concerns itself with the reality of the decadence of Rome and its rise and fall. The other is a fantastical narrative element – the living dead. My brief to myself on this project is to give the audience not only zombies they have never seen before but also a Rome they have never seen before.”
The original script was submitted to Amazon Studios on 31 December 2010, so it has taken about a year-and-a-half to get to the stage where the idea is even close to becoming a reality. But that is the nature of the Studios concept, which is a pretty innovative idea that highlights some of the ways content providers are looking to bring new ideas to life.
Indeed, whilst the likes of Netflix started out life as a simple DVD delivery service, we’re seeing an increasing shift towards original or exclusive content as competition in the space heats up.
I, for one, cannot wait to watch Zombies vs. Gladiators…if it does ever reach production. My money’s on the gladiators.