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Is '300 Rise of an Empire' a sequel or prequel?

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After being pushed back from its August 2013 release date, “300: Rise of an Empire” hits nationwide theaters on March 7, 2014 as successor to the 2006 blockbuster, “300”. Technically, the new action drama flick is a Hollywood sequel, while the movie title screams prequel. In actuality, the narrative runs simultaneously with the first "300" movie, so it’s neither.

“300: Rise of an Empire” is set at the same time as its predecessor, except the battle action occurs at sea in this fantasy war movie. Zack Snyder, writer and director of the original reveals that he had no intentions of making a second “300” film.

“When we finished '300', they all died, so I guess that’s it. We didn't really think there could be another movie,” Snyder tells ScreenCrave. “It’s really fun for me to see these two movies kind of exist now next to each other,” Snyder said.

According to Box Office Mojo, “300” ended up grossing $210 million at the box office, costing reportedly $65 million to make. When the decision to make the follow-up gladiator style movie was finally came about, production was momentarily up in the air.

Snyder made the commitment to direct “Man of Steel”, so he hand selected another director to take on the next “300” project. Noam Murro sits in the director’s chair for “300: Rise of an Empire”, landing the gig as a result of a referral from Snyder's movie producer wife, Debbie.

Originally set to direct “A Good Day to Die Hard”, Murro turned the movie down to work on 300: Rise of Empire instead. Murro’s directing resume includes the 2008 Dennis Quaid comedy, "Smart People". Zack Snyder teams up with Kurt Johnstad as co-writer of “300: Rise of an Empire”. Like the first “300” installment, the screenplay is based on the Frank Miller graphic novel, Xerxes.

Although new direction is behind it, fans can expect the sea battles to feature the same graphic R rated bloodletting gore that “300” is known for. With CGI 3D graphics, the big screen combats will likely be more gruesome. “ 'Empire' is tied visually to the original, but with so much happening within small boats, there is a whole different choreography of fighting and war,'' Murro said.

“This is not a duplicate movie or a cookie-cutter. It's a very different story to tell in keeping with the original flavor of '300'," Murro added.

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