15 January 2013 1014 Views

“Apollo 18” Writer to Rewrite Reddit Story-Turned-Film “Rome Sweet Rome”

by Dan Koelsch

rome sweet rome

It’s been awhile since we’ve provided an update on Rome Sweet Rome, the in-development Warner Bros. film based on a story on Reddit. Variety is reporting that Apollo 18 screenwriter Brian Miller has been brought on for a fresh rewrite. Get the details after the break.

Back in 2011, Redditor James Erwin (Prufrock451) commented on an AskReddit question titled “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?” with a dry, yet detailed, account of Day 1 of the attack. The response was swift and humongous. The former Jeopardy winner quickly continued the story, separating each chapters into days. It got so popular that an entire subreddit was created. Warner Bros. caught wind of the story and optioned the film, with Erwin getting a crack at the first draft himself.

After news broke of Miller doing a rewrite, this was Erwin’s response:

You guys, 99% of what I’m feeling is simply relief that the other shoe has dropped after eight months of waiting. First thoughts:

-I have learned a massive respect for the men and women of the Marine Corps, and plan to continue advocating for the Semper Fi Fund, Toys for Tots, and the Corps in general.
-Apollo 18 naysayers: No one person is ever the genius who creates an entire film, and by the same token, you can’t judge one person based on one film they were involved with. Brian has succeeded in a terrifyingly difficult business. He’s working with a lot of smart people. Let’s give him a chance.
-The film is its own creature now, purists, and please remember that someday, when you least expect it, Day Nine is coming. Nothing is ruined. If anything, this news speeds the day when RSR will simply be fanfiction and not a breach of contract.
-Finally: Purism isn’t the best way to respond to this news anyway. This is my baby, which I spent months creating, which my name is on and my reputation bound up with. I am thrilled, and I wish only the best for Brian Miller and everyone else involved with RSR. Which, remember, won’t even be the name of the film.

So: Please join me in staying excited and hopeful. Longwinded rant over. Floor open for discussion. *gavel*

Erwin later commented a bit more frankly about the process on Reddit:

Horse’s mouth, folks. What the studio exec told me was that she loved the group dynamics and characters. Dialogue and plot, she also liked. Tone was her concern.

As I’ve stated elsewhere, not surprising. She came onto the project a week before I turned that draft in. The studio brought in new executive producers. Shock of shocks, they all have their own ideas. So, since I didn’t (as zawmbie5 puts it) turn in the Holy Grail, they saw no downside in getting a fresh take.

Down the road, the producers will hold the drafts up side by side and tell someone – me, Miller, Mysterious Screenwriter #3, whatever – “take X from this and Y from that.”

I understand and agree with every decision they made. Could it have turned out better for me? Sure. Realistically? Less sure.

Erwin has also commented that he hopes to have a crack at another draft, but is unsure if that is likely. Overall, this gives an interesting inside look into the film industry’s development process. While Miller’s resume is thin, I actually liked Apollo 18 (which had a solid viral campaign), so I’m interested to see what he does. Also, the logline for the film changes Marines to Special Forces, though I’m not sure why. At least we know Erwin will continue on with his original story.

To follow the process of Rome Sweet Rome, check out Reddit and Facebook.



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