Warner Brothers to film Rome Sweet Rome movie

Rome Sweet Rome, a historical sci-fi saga published as comments at Reddit, was snapped up today by Warner Brothers.

In answer to a question -- "Could I destroy the Roman Empire ... with a U.S. Marine Battalion?" -- author James Erwin posted his reply in the form of a short story. Just a few hundred words long, it was soon expanded with more perfectly formed flash-fics, and the ongoing saga became a hit.

Within days, Erwin--a Jeopardy champion--saw his story receive its own subreddit, where readers created fan-art and fiction to augment his official story updates. There are even mockup movie trailers. According to Variety, WB's Chris Gary encouraged the studio to 'move agressively' to acquire the rights.

Illo: Hustlersquad.net


    1. Congratulations, man. Nice to see creative people getting their just reward. Be careful with that deal, though…these guys are sharks.

    2. I’m amazed no one has said this yet but…. Thanks Prufrock451, Rome Sweet Rome rocks. Well done.

    3. Congrats, dude, it’s totally deserved. When I read the part where the Emperor looks at the multi-racial Marines and is terrified at how large an empire that suggests, it went from cool fanfic to a Real Novel.

  1. Sounds interesting. Though I think that disease would probably do  one hell of a number on the marines. Modern medecine’s all well and good, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that they won’t have a smallpox vaccine for example…
    Not that they wouldn’t give as well as they got in that department.

    1. In all likelihood, disease would do more harm to the Romans, who would not share the immunities the Marines had acquired over the intervening centuries, although both sides may suffer when they swap viruses. In any event, I suspect the Marines would not last very long once they were deprived of their limited stock of ammunition. 

    2. For the record, our current military is, in fact, vaccinated for smallpox in case somebody with the right connections and a reason to take down the US military has that same idea.  I’ve seen the disgusting vaccination sites to confirm it.

    3. Now what about in reverse? What if one them was recovering over a mild sniffle but that sniffle was an evolved pigflu that spread like wildfire?

  2. Well, you know what this means, guys.  Time for the first BoingBoing-sourced script deal!

    I was gonna resurrect my pet Cowboys vs. Werewolves story, until I just read that that was the foundation of the pitched $250 million version of Disney’s new Lone Ranger.  (The freshly-greenlit one has no werewolves, and is budgeted at a much more modest and reasonable $215 million.)

    Whaddaya think?  Plucky young ukulele player teams up with copyfighting fair-use attorney (and DIY hobbyist) to take on megalomaniacal surveillance-equipment-and-corruptible-e-voting-machine manufacturer (and heir to an oppressive banana-plantation factory farm fortune) whose army of Mean Monkeys threatens to devour the world’s plantains and bananas (and gnaw on human victims whether buxom and scantily clad, or manly and scantily brained) unless the citizens of the world agree to give up their bicycles, open-source software, comix, coffee, 3D printers, and any rights enumerated in constitutional amendments not numbered “2.”  Cats play a key role.  Oh, and there’s a brief romantic interlude on Mars, but we’re not married to it.

  3. Wow, awesome! I want to see a thread of mine get picked up by a major studio one of these days. :-)

    No way they could do it, btw. You’d run out of gas and ammo pretty quick, you’d be vastly outnumbered, and the dudes in charge of the empire were basically hard-ass mafia-like families who were tough, cunning, and utterly ruthless.  Most likely, a lucky subset of the battalion would wind up as praetorian guard living lives of luxury, with the rest being killed in very nasty ways.

    Human are very little changed from a thousand or two years ago, despite what many people seem to think. We are not, in general, any more intelligent than the ancients; we just have accumulated more facts.

  4. While I’ve been reading this I’ve been struck by one major thing missing: those ancients who would convert to fighting with the modern soldiers because of their modern weaponry. Whether 330,000 Roman troops could beat 60 Humvees and modern weaponry with their numbers or not doesn’t matter- once they saw a chariot with no horse, a spear that explodes or flies so much faster than a man can throw they would be annihilated, not by the weapons but through psychological warfare. “We are the gods of Olympus and we’ve come to conquer you.” Blow up a battalion with modern weaponry and you’ve won. Period. They would be so amazed it wouldn’t matter their numbers or fighting ability, or the modern military’s gas and ammo stores.

    1. Even the native Americans fought against guns with little more than enthusiasm.  Once the time traveler’s fuel and ammo was spent (the fuel would go first) and they took their first casualty they’d lose their mystique fast.  The Aztecs started sacrificing Conquistadors and their horses once they realized they weren’t gods.   Sorry but marines aren’t supermen.

      Who hasn’t had this idea anyway?  Saturday Night Live ages ago had a skit called “What If Spartacus Had A Piper Cub?”

  5. I spent at least 121 hours of my college career debating “bunch of rednecks out hunting in a pickup truck vs. Phalanx from classical-era Greek city-state.”

  6. Best thing I ever read on Reddit…(and I was so proud I found it myself without prompting or links from hipper friends…)

    Good work Prufrock451…hope it all ends well (both the film and your new-found fame ; )

  7. My prediction: this becomes a big hit and every other movie studio starts following suit, spamming everything that looks remotely like a social media site in order to magically repeat the success.  The commons movie will become the new superhero movie.  Mark my words. :)

    Brought to you by Craigslist.

    1. My prediction: this becomes a big hit and every other movie studio starts following suit…

      Please no LOLcats movie, please no LOLcats movie…

  8. Is this a big PR push for Reddit or something? I mean, two Reddit-related stories in a row?

    Isn’t Reddit the jailbait site with cat memes from 2 years ago?

  9. Mr. Erwin, I tip my hat to you sir. I hope the fact that WB has aquired the rights to this story of yours is a good sign of things to come for you :-D

  10. No, I don’t see this as good news at all. 

    There’s a great website called FICLY.COM, I write short stories there. 

    Ficly writers can enter challenges posted just like this reddit question “Could I destroy the entire Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus if I traveled back in time with a modern U.S. Marine infantry battalion or MEU?”  

    We can also write Prequels and Sequels to any story. Some of the stories are many times longer than this and consist of 5 or more authors, usually leapfrogging. What if WB offered only ONE of them a contract?

    My point is, there are hundreds of comments that this guy used to write his story. He received professional military advice too that made his story better. 

    Unless he’s going to share the wealth, I think he would be making a huge mistake.

      1. Do all people that respond have to be “bitter” or “Jealous”? Not a good way to view life my friend. Strange that you would come to that conclusion. Are you a Republican? 

        1. “No, I don’t see this as good news at all. ”
          “There’s a great website called FICLY.COM, I write short stories there.”
          “Unless he’s going to share the wealth, I think he would be making a huge mistake.”

          That sounds like jealousy. Not of the ‘happy for you’ kind, either – hence, ‘bitter jealousy’.
          Not a strange conclusion based on your post. And I’m not a ‘Republican’ for calling out your jealous comment. I’m not even American!

          What is it about force-fitting ANY discussion in the context of America’s bipolar political context?

          Do Republicans run their political agenda based on pointing out when other people are bitter and jealous? It does sound terribly random, and hardly limited to a single political leaning. :)

    1. Yeah I was just wondering about rights and payments here.  I’m guessing we are about to see a bunch of lawsuits, the whole thing falls apart (or dies in development hell) and a bunch of Reddit users are about to have their work stolen by a major corporation. 

      I love the idea of Creative Commons.  But copyright protects labor against management, anyway you slice it.

  11. And, the good news is I’m going to create a Reddit account: 

    > lol, he killed the Chaplain… nice move, I did find pertinent the comment that pointed out that the Chaplain would know Latin.

    >> I thought that was interesting too. although now i have to wonder- if the chaplain knows Latin, that would imply that he was catholic. and would a catholic chaplain commit suicide, knowing that by doing so he risks eternal damnation?

    >>> Would a Catholic chaplain commit suicide in 23 BC, when he has a decent chance of living long enough to see Jesus born?

    I’ve never seen anything that good on Boing Boing, I can’t stop laughing. 

    1. The idea of a Catholic priest trying to communicate with Classical Latin speakers in the LOLspeak that is Church Latin could be a whole other movie. A comedy.

    1. The reason no film has been done on this, I surmise, is that Hollywood seems to have a blind spot for the most part when it comes to Central and South America. 

  12. Yep, as noted upthread, Jonathan Hickman wrote a great miniseries for Image Comics a few years ago [2008-2009] titled Pax Romana.  Time traveling modern military [CERN!  The Vatican!] go back in time to take over the past and change the future.  Awesome read, now in a collected graphic novel edition at better booksellers everywhere.

  13. Wow, that’s wonderful.

    My fantasy has always been (and forgive me if this was covered on the Reddit thread), how few people would you need to conquer Roman armies if they could have planned everything before-hand?

    I think that so long as you go for shock-and-awe, two or three people with a lot of special effects equipment could make any Roman army flee.

    Fireworks, flame throwers, explosions. A sniper dropping the commander from across the field of battle. If you bring a generator, booming music and projections of Heavenly Hosts in the clouds.

    I think a single Hollywood special effects director with a big enough budget could make any of Caesar’s armies turn and run in 20 minutes or less.

  14. Just because Warner Brothers bought the rights doesn’t mean they’re going to actually film it.

    …But I really, really hope they do.

  15. I suspect the Marines would not last very long once they were deprived of their limited stock of ammunition.

    I’m not sure I completely buy that. Marines are trained in a completely different manner than the other military branches. As long as they could remain light and mobile, they could probably sustain a guerrilla campaign for some time. However once they got pinned down, without modern weapons they would eventually be overwhelmed and annihilated. 

  16. I expect the marines will do very well, then the Romans wil come up with a few clever tricks of their own then the ammo will start to run out, then at the very end as everyone is in a stalemate, something indeterminate will happen allowing both sides to limp off and recover in time for marines vs Romans II or marines team up with Romans vs the Chinese or Persians or Visigoths or if we’re feeling really bereft of ideas Predators. There. I can hasz royalties?

  17. The Inner Cynic believes this is more to keep anyone else from using the concept moreso than to actually film it.

    Though I would love it if they got Ridly Scott involved.

  18. I’ve always wanted to “extend” The Final Countdown into a movie about changing the face of the world. The movie stops short of any real battle of F-18 s vs. 1940s Zeros, but it could be remade into something much, much better. Imagine: a single modern aircraft carrier cohort wipes out the attacking Japanese fleet and air corp before Pearl Harbor. Moves to the North Atlantic (remember — atomic powered air craft carrier) and takes out the German Luftwaffe, stomps on the Third Reich with supersonic planes, cruise missles, etc, and finishes the war before it starts, saving millions.

    I’d watch that movie. Wouldn’t you?

  19. I’m feeling all S.M. Stirling here.  I love those alternative history ideas.  I think Moore’s Bring the Jubilee was my first. Thanks for the heads-up for this one!

  20. I’m really looking forward to this. The original was a great read, I’ll pay money to see it in the theaters if just to support studios buying ideas instead of remakes.

  21. Wow, from Reddit to the big screen. Way to go Prufrock451!

    I’ve told lots of friends/family about this. It’s pretty exciting.

  22. Bummer you didn’t link to my trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwXfE-6hwoI&hd=1 

    I put it together with music and VO from others around the reddit community, as well as being an avid supporter of all things BoingBoing. Oh well.

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