Gladiator 2: release date, cast, plot, trailer, and more

Russell Crowe in Gladiator.
DreamWorks Pictures

In 2000, director Ridley Scott introduced Maximus Decimus Meridius to the world in Gladiator. The historical epic starred Russell Crowe as Maximus, a Roman general sold into slavery after being betrayed by Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), the Emperor’s power-hungry son. Maximus becomes a gladiator and vows to exact his revenge on Commodus for killing his family. Gladiator was the second-highest-grossing film of 2000 and won five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Crowe.

Twenty-four years later, Scott returns to the arena of blood and sand with his long-awaited sequel, Gladiator 2. The film will follow an adult Lucius Verus, son of Lucilla and nephew of Commodus. Gladiator 2 is one of the most anticipated films on the 2024 calendar. Below, we explore everything you need to know about Gladiator 2, including the release date, cast, synopsis, and trailer.

When is Gladiator 2’s release date?

Russell Crowe points a sword in Gladiator.
Universal Pictures

Gladiator 2 is now scheduled to be released theatrically on November 22, 2024. Gladiator 2 will be released one week earlier, on November 15, 2024, in select international markets.

Paramount Pictures will distribute the film in the U.S., while Universal Pictures will handle international distribution.

Who is in the Gladiator 2 cast?

Paul Mescal stares ahead in Normal People.

Paul Mescal headlines Gladiator 2 as Lucius Verus, a character originated by Spencer Treat Clark in Gladiator. Initial reports stated Mescal would be playing Lucius. However, the first CinemaCon trailer did not confirm that Mescal’s character was Lucius. Instead, Variety described the character as a ” nobleman who renounced his privilege.” We’ll have to wait for further confirmation to see the name of Mescal’s character.

Mescal is best known for his Emmy-nominated role of Connell Waldron in Normal People and his Oscar-nominated role of Calum Paterson in Aftersun. Predominantly known for starring in independent features, Gladiator 2 is the biggest film of Mescal’s young career.

Scott mentioned how Mescal’s breakout role in Normal People convinced him to cast the Irish actor in his Gladiator sequel.

“Can I see Paul Mescal being as big as Russell Crowe? For sure,” Scott told Total Film in October 2023. “I watched Normal People. It’s not my kind of show, but I saw four episodes in a row – boom, boom, boom. I was thinking, ‘Who the hell is this Paul Mescal?’ And then I watched the whole series. And then, suddenly, Gladiator 2 came up because the script was working pretty well. And I kept thinking about Paul. And that was it.”

Denzel Washington will star alongside Mescal as a former gladiator who earned his freedom and became a wealthy arms and commodities dealer. However, Washington’s character still holds a grudge against the emperors. Additional cast members include Joseph Quinn as co-emperor Caracalla, Fred Hechinger as co-emperor Geta, Pedro Pascal, May Calamawy, Lior Raz, Peter Mensah, and Matt Lucas. Hechinger’s role originally belonged to Barry Keoghan, but the Saltburn actor dropped out because of scheduling issues.

Two actors reprising their roles from Gladiator in the sequel are Connie Nielsen as Lucilla, Lucius’s mother, and Derek Jacobi as Senator Gracchus, an ally of Lucilla and Maximus. Djimon Hounsou was set to return for the sequel as Juba but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts.

Who does Denzel Washington play in Gladiator 2?

Denzel Washington as Robert McCall in The Equalizer 3.
Sony Pictures

Although Mescal is the movie’s lead, there has been a huge amount of interest about who Washington might be playing in the film, in large part because of his incredible career in Hollywood. Although most details of Washington’s character have been kept under wraps, Ridley Scott revealed a few things when discussing him with Total Film.

He plays a former slave who has become a wealthy arms dealer, but still harbors a grudge against the Roman Empire. “There were businesses of gladiators who could indeed earn their freedom if they stayed alive,” Scott said. “That was the deal. So we went right into that, in-depth. Where did he come from? How was he taken? He was branded with marks and registered with a brand on his chest as a slave. So that’s how he comes into the story. He’s a rich guy who’s still carrying a grudge.”

What is Gladiator 2 about?

Gladiator 2 will follow an older Lucius about 15 years after Gladiator. Most of the plot details have been kept under wraps; however, Scott explained to Rotten Tomatoes what Lucius has been up to since Gladiator.

“[Lucius] has been out in the wilderness for … let’s see, we last saw him when he was 12,” Scott said. “It’s about 12, 15 years later, he’s been out in the wilderness, having lost touch with his mother. His mother lost touch with him. She doesn’t know where he is. She thinks he might be dead.”

Paul Mescal was reticent to offer any additional details but added that he was excited about the project.

“I can’t tell you how stressed I am talking about that film in particular because it’s definitely the biggest one I’ve done,” he explained. “I feel really excited, but it’s difficult to get away from the legacy of the film a bit… I think it’s really well written and it pays homage to the first one, but it’s very much something that I think I can step into and make comfortably my own.”

In a profile with The New Yorker, Scott revealed that Gladiator 2 will feature a scene where Mescal’s character fights a group of vicious baboons.

The profile reads: “In the meantime, he’d [Scott] been polishing the 90 minutes he had, including a scene in which the hero fights a pack of baboons; he’d been haunted, he said, by a video of baboons attacking tourists in Johannesburg: ‘Baboons are carnivores. Can you hang from that roof for two hours by your left leg? No! A baboon can.’”

Who is writing and directing Gladiator 2?

Ridley Scott holds a microphone and talks.

Gladiator 2 is directed by Scott from a screenplay by David Scarpa. Scott and Scarpa previously teamed on 2017’s All the Money in the World and 2023’s Napoleon. Scott will produce Gladiator 2 alongside Michael Pruss, Douglas Wick, Lucy Fisher, and David Franzoni. Scott received an Oscar nomination for Best Director for Gladiator.

Are Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix involved in Gladiator 2?

Joaquin Phoenix stares into Russell Crowe's eyes as the latter is chained.
Universal Pictures

Crowe and Phoenix are not expected to reprise their roles of Maximus and Commodus for the sequel because both men die at the end of Gladiator. Maximus kills Commodus in a duel at the Coliseum. However, Maximus succumbs to his wounds shortly after. Maximus and Commodus could appear in archival footage. Also, Crowe or Phoenix could have filmed a secret cameo for a flashback sequence, but there have been no reports of their involvement.

At one point, there were plans to resurrect Maximus for a potential sequel, but those plans now seem to be off the table. The original version of Gladiator 2 would have seen Maximus coming back from the River Styx, but the script has evolved since then, and is apparently now much more grounded.

“I said, ‘We can bring him back this way,'” Scott explained on the ReelBlend podcast. “‘And what I want to do is start the film in Styx, on the edge of the ocean, and you see him, this warrior, wandering in armor. Then, it’s Maximus wandering, looking for where he’s going to go next. That’s Scene One.’”

Is there a trailer for Gladiator 2?

Connie Nielsen and Russell Crowe as Lucilla and Maximus in Gladiator.
Image via Universal

As of January 2024, there is no trailer for Gladiator 2. With a November 2024 release, expect a Gladiator 2 trailer to premiere this spring or summer. It might be a good idea to monitor A Quiet Place: Day One, one of the most anticipated horror movies of 2024, which hits theaters on June 28.

Studios love to run trailers from their upcoming projects in front of their own films. Gladiator 2 and A Quiet Place: Day One are both from Paramount movies, so do not be surprised if a trailer for the Gladiator sequel premieres in June.

Early Gladiator 2 footage has ‘blown execs away’

Gladiator 2 wrapped production earlier this year. While no images or trailers have surfaced online, Paramount executives have seen some early footage. In February 2024, Deadline reported that Scott had signed on to direct a Bee Gees movie for Paramount. The report included a small but promising update about Gladiator 2.

Justin Kroll of Deadline wrote, “Scott recently wrapped production on the sequel to his smash hit Gladiator and, according to sources, early footage has blown execs away.”

Gladiator 2’s budget reportedly exceeds $300 million

Due to the size and scale of the project, Gladiator 2 was always going to be expensive. However, The Hollywood Reporter revealed Scott’s sequel went “wildly over budget.” Initially priced at $165 million, the report states Gladiator 2’s budget “ballooned to something closer to $310 million.” However, Paramount insiders “insist” that the net cost of the shoot was under $250 million. Reasons behind the high budget include claims of animal abuse, delays caused by the Hollywood strikes, and on-set accidents.

Can you stream Gladiator 2?

Russell Crowe holds his hands out in the arena for Gladiator.
Universal Pictures

Gladiator 2 will be released theatrically in November 2024. It will not be a day-and-date release on a streaming service. When Gladiator 2 does hit streaming, it will wind up on Paramount+.

Will there be a sequel to Gladiator 2?

A man sits next to a young boy and puts his hand on his shoulder.
Universal Pictures

There are no plans for a Gladiator 3 as of March 2024. Considering it will be 24 years between the two films, Paramount will likely want to see how Gladiator 2 does at the box office before determining the franchise’s future.

Gladiator 2 at CinemaCon 2024

CinemaCon is an annual convention where the year’s big movies are shown to exhibitors. This year, Gladiator 2 is expected to have a presence, and the promo signs below show that the movie will be one of the highlights of this convention.

On April 11, Paramount showed the first footage of Gladiator 2 to audience members at CinemaCon. Mescal’s character is a nobleman who renounces his privilege and fights as a gladiator. The action-packed trailer features Mescal fighting a rhino and a horde of baboons. Mescal also squares off with Pascal’s character. Lurking in the shadows through the video is Washington’s character, who looks to use Mescal’s warrior as a catalyst for the fall of the Roman Empire.

Early word on Gladiator 2 after test screening is good

According to World of Reel’s Jordan Ruimy, Gladiator 2 screened in Las Vegas on April 24. Early word on the 2-hour-and-40-minute cut was “good,” with Washington and Nielson cited as the two breakout performances. Ruimy’s report also states that Pascal plays Mescal’s stepfather. When Pascal’s character is sent to battle, the wife and mother of Mescal’s character are murdered.

“The new characters are strong. Mescal’s performance is said to be subdued, but effective,” Ruimy wrote. “The standouts seems to be Connie Nielsen who does a ‘great job,’ very emotional and beautiful work on her part, and, according to an attendee, she could potentially get Oscar-nominated for her work here. Washington, as the shadowy operator, manipulating everything, is deviously brilliant. Joseph Quinn and Fred Hechinger (The White Lotus) are said to be entertaining standouts as well — chewing up the scenery in their spoiled-rich kid roles.”

Ruimy’s source relayed that the film looks “nearly done” with only a few edits left. The gladiator scenes were “very entertaining,” similar to the terrific fight sequences in Gladiator.

New images from reshoots

Gladiator 2 is still filming! That’s right, the production resumed activity to fit in several weeks of reshoots, so, of course, several photographers captured the on-location activity.

In the images above, the scene appears to be a massive battle involving Roman soldiers. The last image of the man riding away on a horse appears to be Denzel Washington’s character, although nothing has been confirmed as of yet.

The other images showcase Mescal’s Lucius Verus character in full Roman costume, complete with dirt and blood from a head wound. This is the first time we’ve seen a good image of Mescal in full costume, and to be honest, it closely resembles the look and feel of Russell Crowe in the original Gladiator. This is a good thing and makes the sequel even more of a hotly anticipated movie later in 2024.

Gladiator II footage stuns crowd at CineEurope

At CineEurope, Paramount executives showcased never-before-seen footage from Gladiator II, including a yet-to-be-released trailer. Per Variety, Scott told the crowd that the sequel would be “well worth the wait.” Additionally, Mark Viane, Paramount’s president of international theatrical distribution, told the audience that Gladiator II features some of the “biggest action sequences ever put on film.”