Inspired by Daniel P. Mannix’s 1958 book Those About to Die (formerly titled The Way of the Gladiator), the film’s script, initially written by Franzoni, was acquired by DreamWorks and Ridley Scott signed on to direct the film.

Gladiator (2000) was an epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott and written by David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson. The film was co-produced and released by DreamWorks Pictures and Universal Pictures. It stars Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed (in his final role), Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, John Shrapnel, and Richard Harris.

Russell Crowe portrays Hispano-Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is betrayed when Commodus, the ambitious son of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, murders his father and seizes the throne. Reduced to slavery, Maximus rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the murders of his family and his emperor.

The character Maximus Decimus Meridius was inspired by Marcus Nonius Macrinus, who was a Roman senator and general during the reigns of the Emperors Antoninus Pius, Lucius Verus, and Marcus Aurelius. While both and are placed in the same time period and share similarities such as being liked and well known to Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Nonius Macrinus went on to enjoy a successful career and died a wealthy man.