Director SIR Ridley Scott has confirmed a second Gladiator film is already written, and it could be ready to hit cinemas at the beginning of 2005.

The HANNIBAL filmmaker has revealed the plot of the planned film will be centred around the world of Roman politics rather than the gladiatorial arena.

Scott insists RUSSELL CROWE - who won an OSCAR for his role in the original movie - will not be reprising his part.

But one returning character will be Connie Nielsen's Roman aristocrat LUCILLA, whose son LUCIUS is the central character in the new project.

Ridley tells British film website EMPIRE ONLINE.COM, "It's written. We've already done quite a lot of work and the draft's in now. The target would be early 2005.

"It's the next generation. Roman history is so exotic that any part of it is really fascinating. History is far more exotic than anything you can dream up. The film will take the next step, which is the son. Lucilla's son, Lucius."

And there will be no sign of the gladiatorial fighting that characterised the acclaimed first outing.

Ridley adds, "No, no we can't do that again. We've done that. I wouldn't' touch gladiators again. I mean, I wouldn't touch the gladiatorial side again, we have to go to the next step.

"There will be more politics and praetorians. The parts that are interesting, which always lead to conflict."

11/09/2003 17:20