If you’re like most of Vulture readers, you don’t need us to tell you that Xerxes the Great was the fourth Zoroastrian king of the Achamenid Empire. Du-uh. But what you do need your Vulture editors to tell you is that Warner Bros. has offered Xerxes — the sequel to Zach Snyder’s epic 300 — to none other than Sherlock Holmes director Guy Ritchie.
Like 300 before it, Xerxes is based on one of Frank Miller’s graphic novels and had been developed by Snyder, who'd planned to direct his own script. So what gives?
One theory is that Warner Bros. needs Snyder to bear down on Superman stat: Insiders say the closely-guarded script for Superman suffers from major third-act problems, and the studio faces a ticking clock on that franchise, legally speaking; if a Superman film isn’t in production by 2013, Warner Bros. loses the rights to the entire Superman franchise and would have to re-license it from its original creators — the estates of Detective Comics writers Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster — at great if not prohibitive expense.
But there’s another theory: At a recent Warner Bros.—conducted audience research screening of Snyder’s Sucker Punch, the film tested poorly. Says one insider familiar with it, “It was bad; like, really bad. They’re [Warners brass] really not happy with it over there.”
That, plus with Snyder’s last two films (Watchmen and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole) having under-performed, some insiders posit that offering Ritchie Xerxes means that Warner’s ardor for all things Snyder may be cooling just a bit.
Regardless, we’re pleased that Xerxes (a.k.a. King Ahasuerus) is heating up — and just in time for Purim! We have only one question: Cherry or apricot hamantashen, Guy?