Pre-production is underway on a six-part prequel to Starz' hit original series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Andy Whitfield, who played the title character in the series, will appear in the prequel briefly, but Lucy Lawless and John Hannah take center stage in this story of the rise of the House of Batiatus and its champions before Spartacus arrives as a captured Thracian slave. With the title still to be determined, the prequel will begin production this summer in New Zealand, and is slated to air on Starz in January 2011.
John Hannah returns as Batiatus, owner of the Ludus, along with his wife Lucretia, played by Lucy Lawless. Other returning actors include Peter Mensah (Doctore), Manu Bennett (Crixus), Antonio Te Maioho (Barca), Nick Tarabay (Ashur), Lesley-Ann Brandt (Naevia) - and others. New characters will also be added - most notably the gladiator who was champion of the House of Batiatus before Spartacus or even Crixus - who will help fill in the story about the people and politics in the House of Batiatus and ancient Capua as a whole.
Production on the second season of Spartacus: Blood and Sand was postponed this spring to allow Andy Whitfield to be treated for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in New Zealand. His doctors indicate that the actor is responding well.
"The prequel story maintains the excitement and entertainment value of the first season of Spartacus giving audiences the engaging experience they've come to expect," said Starz President and CEO Chris Albrecht. "We look forward to continuing the Spartacus story."
Produced by Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Joshua Donen and Steven S. DeKnight, Spartacus: Blood and Sand was the highest rated show for the 18-49 demographic among all cable networks for 12 of the 13 Fridays on which it aired based on coverage rating.* The production team remains intact for the six-part prequel.