Zack Snyder Regains Rights to ‘Blood and Ashes,’ Script Originally Pitched as a ‘300’ Sequel (Exclusive)

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Zack Snyder may have his hands full launching Rebel Moon, his sci-fi fantasy film that Netflix unveils Dec. 22, but that doesn’t mean the energetic filmmaker isn’t busy developing other projects.

Enter Blood and Ashes. The film began life as a sequel to 300 and 300: Rise of an Empire, and was one of the last projects Snyder worked on before officially leaving Warner Bros. after the debacle that was Justice League. But what he turned in was quite different from a 300 sequel.

More from The Hollywood Reporter

Blood and Ashes, which he partially wrote while shooting Army of the Dead for Netflix in 2019, ended up focusing on the relationship between Alexander the Great and his second in command, Haphaestion. It was a gay love story that was also an ancient Greek war epic, one he said then-Warners executive Courtenay Valenti liked and championed.

The studio, perhaps unsurprisingly, given its subject matter and the tense circumstances between itself and the filmmaker following his exit from Justice League, ultimately didn’t go for it.

But the project, co-written by longtime collaborator Kurt Johnstad, may be back in play, as Snyder recently told THR that he and his wife and producing partner Deborah Snyder, have gotten the rights back from the studio — and are free to shop it elsewhere.

“We got the rights back so we can make if we want it,” Snyder said during an interview for this week’s THR cover story. “I don’t know what the marketplace is for an incredibly homoerotic, super violent, super sexual movie. But maybe it’s perfect.”

What is no longer in play, however, is an adaptation of controversial Howard Chaykin comic Black Kiss. Snyder had the rights to the comic, published in the late 1980s, and had taken a stab at adapting it as a television series, even going as far as writing a pilot.

“No one wanted to make it,” says Snyder. “It was too weird. We really went for it, too.”

Ostensibly a Los Angeles-set hardboiled erotic tale, the story pushed buttons at the time by featuring a transgender femme fatale, skewering religious figures, killing kids, giving readers giant dollops of sex, violence and even some vampires.

Stone Quarry, the banner Snyder runs with Deborah and longtime associate Wesley Coller, has an overall film deal with Netflix, which means the filmmaker will be making original stories for the foreseeable future.

But a certain segment of the Snyder fandom have pushed the idea of Netflix somehow buying the rights to the Snyder DC movies and continuing that universe.

Netflix’s head of film Scott Stuber has heard those rumors, and while he doesn’t throw cold water on them, he politely acknowledges the obvious, telling THR, “That’s always tricky because you don’t own it.”

But he did say that there was a possibility that Snyder’s DC movies could end up on the platform.

“Obviously we would like to license it at some point,” Stuber says. “We’d love to have it on so that fans can experience more Zack. The more Zack we have, the better we are.”

In the meantime, Snyder is developing sequels and spinoffs for Army of the Dead for Netflix and is in post on the second Rebel Moon film (with a third in the script stage). But Snyder’s need to tell stories extends beyond his onscreen projects. Snyder is obsessed with storytelling and mythology — and imbues the objects around him with their own stories.

There’s the pile of cameras in his memorabilia-cluttered office that he hand-built to shoot Rebel Moon using parts from a Leika camera and vintage 1960s Japanese lenses. They have their own fictional backstory and logos inscribed on them.

Ask him about the Land Rover he’s working on in his driveway and you’ll be spun a tale of the fabled Mount Wilson Toll Road Race, nicknamed Race to the Stars, that unfolded for decades in the mountains above Pasadena, only to be canceled after a fateful accident in 1971. There was no such race, but darn if it doesn’t all sound convincing.

The most telling of Snyder’s myths could be the small batch bourbon he distilled, complete with a story inscribed on the label titled “The Song of Zachariah.” It tells the story of a man named Zachariah who, after witnessing a murder, is bathed in the light of an angel, and is inspired to create a holy temple — only for the townspeople to rise up and destroy his temple and the sweet nectar he stored inside.

Is this a commentary of Snyder’s own life? Maybe his experience with Hollywood? Nah. He just thought it was cool.

Growing up, Snyder soaked up stories around him — he even had a subscription of adult-skewing comic magazine Heavy Metal at a way younger age than he should have — but nothing loomed larger than the one-two punch in 1986 of the seminal works of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Suddenly, everything he knew about superheroes was turned upside down. Comics could now be seen as legitimate art. Comics could now be dark with a capital D.

Snyder says that in one respect, his DC movies were him working out his relationship with all that superhero mythology.

“How could I look at Superman, Batman with a straight face and just say ‘Here he is, enjoy,’” says Snyder. “I love the characters, I’m not saying I wanted to break them or make them less than they are. But I’m also not going to hand them over like a piece of pure propaganda that said Superman is awesome or that Batman has an unbreakable moral code.”

Best of The Hollywood Reporter