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IMMORTALS

About The Production
When producers Gianni Nunnari and Mark Canton first met with Charley and Vlas Parlapanides, the Greek-American brothers who wrote the script that would become Immortals, they knew immediately they had found a compelling and original property. "They gave a great pitch, very precise and detailed,” says Nunnari. "We really liked it, but we didn't know if we were ready to jump on another historical epic.”

Their reservation was that they had just wrapped the groundbreaking period action blockbuster 300. "Obviously, 300 was a landmark in both our careers,” adds Canton. "It was unprecedented for the industry. It showed you can make a historical movie in a very modern way with themes that are connected to contemporary feelings and emotions and morality. But for our next project we had planned to stay away from material that was similar in nature. However, Gianni is a master at recognizing great material, and we are both students of history, as well as mythology and literature. We decided Immortals should be the second part of our partnership in making a group of historical, mythological movies.”

Canton and Nunnari were drawn to what they call the film's "Homer meets Joseph Campbell” sensibility. "The message is to find your responsibility in life,” says Nunnari. "Once you do, you realize it's a privilege. You can live a larger life that goes beyond just yourself.”

The tale of Theseus, a youth born into poverty who rises to hold the fate of civilization in his hands, Immortals began as a short story written by Charley Parlapanides. Eventually the manuscript evolved into a screenplay on which he collaborated with his brother, Vlas. Both brothers had previously worked in front of and behind the camera, but Immortals was the first time they had written a big-budget feature film. Using traditional Greek mythology as a jumping-off point, they fashioned a story that begins when the gods of Olympus conquer their predecessors, the Titans, and imprison their surviving enemies in a mountain.

"In our script, everyone's forgotten, until one man, Hyperion, finds a dead Titan,” says Charley. "He decides that he will free the Titans and conquer the world. We pictured Hyperion as the Charlie Manson of ancient Greece. He starts a murderous cult and convinces people to believe in his plan. Not only is mankind in jeopardy, but the gods are as well.”

The Parlapanides brothers created an original narrative that remains true to the spirit of Greek mythology. "We use familiar archetypes, but they're spun on their heads,” says Charley. "At the heart of the story is a man who starts off as a nonbeliever and then goes on a journey that transforms him into a hero and a martyr.”

Their protagonist, Theseus, was inspired by one of ancient Greece's most prolific heroes. In this telling of the story, Theseus has been recast as a poverty-stricken youth whose mother was slaughtered in one of King Hyperion's raids. With the only person he cared about gone, the young man is bent on avenging her death.

"Theseus has been dealt a terrible hand in life,” says Vlas. "He was born a bastard and then is thrown into an extraordinary circumstance. How he deals with that defines him. And at first he's very angry, but there comes a point when he realizes the struggle is about more than just him.”

Theseus and King Hyperion are in many ways two sides of the same coin, says Vlas. "Parallels can be drawn between Theseus and Hyperion. They've both been persecuted and subjugated. But one embraces the dark side, while the other takes a different route.”

Or as Canton puts it, "Hyperion has drunk from the well of evil. But he has his own ethics. It's a chess game between good and evil. That's what all our movies really are. We don't always want to have to come to the conclusion that good wins, because we know the world is not like that. We like the journey of characters through a time that impacts the future.”

The producers knew they had the basis for something special, and a great deal would rest on finding a director who could fulfill its unique promise. "Based on our experience, we felt the most important component would be finding a brilliant filmmaker,” says Canton. "Gianni and I both knew Tarsem Singh and wanted to work with him. He is an extraordinary talent.”

"The best case scenario for a producer is when your director understands the role that everyone plays,” adds Nunnari. "But if you're not a team player, you shouldn't be in this business at all. Tarsem has a real vision of what he wants to achieve, and he is also very collaborative.”

Producer Ryan Kavanaugh, the CEO of Relativity Media, calls Singh, whose previous work includes two visually arresting films, The Cell and The Fall, a visionary. "He's brilliant, not just as a director, but as an artistic mind. This is a huge commercial epic, but he never treated it like that was all it was. He considered every frame of every scene and knew before we started shooting the color of sandals every person had on and what their sword would look like.”

Singh's vision for the film went far beyond simply making a Hollywood blockbuster version of a Greek myth. He says the project served as a "Trojan horse,” a vehicle to realize his personal vision on a grand scale. "I love reading Greek myths,” says Singh. "But I was not interested in making a film based on the originals. I was intrigued by the relationship between gods and humans. So I thought, we could take some traditional tales and, like in Renaissance painting, use the mythology as the basis, but add things that are relevant to our time.”

Singh's creative drive and personal insights into the script began to transform the story, but the filmmakers never lost sight of the fact that Immortals is also an adrenaline-fueled action adventure, and in that spirit they have packed it with daredevil stunts, state-of-the-art effects, and the added excitement that only 3-D can deliver. "Tarsem was always looking for something that hasn't been seen before,” says Nunnari. "I was often surprised myself. He is exploring a new way to bring images to the screen in a fantastic ride. It's young, it's fresh, it's original. And there's a lot of testosterone in this movie.”

"It's in your face,” says Canton. "We're not playing it safe. History is not safe. Mythology is not safe. And we're really not interested in safe.”

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