Gladiator is a 2000 American-British epic historical drama film directed by Ridley Scott and written by David Franzoni, John Logan, and William Nicholson. The film was co-produced and released by DreamWorks Pictures and Universal Pictures. DreamWorks Pictures distributed the film in North America while Universal Pictures released it internationally through United International Pictures. It stars Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed (in his final role), Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, John Shrapnel, Richard Harris, and Tommy Flanagan. Crowe portrays Roman general Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is betrayed when Commodus, the ambitious son of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, murders his father and seizes the throne. Reduced to slavery, Maximus becomes a gladiator and rises through the ranks of the arena to avenge the murders of his family and his emperor. Inspired by Daniel P. Mannix’s 1958 book Those About to Die (formerly titled The Way of the Gladiator), the film’s script, initially written by Franzoni, was acquired by DreamWorks and Ridley Scott signed on to direct the film. Principal photography began in January 1999, before the script was completed, and wrapped up in May of that year, with the scenes of Ancient Rome shot over a period of nineteen weeks in Fort Ricasoli, Malta. The film’s computer-generated imagery effects were created by British post-production company The Mill, who also created a digital body double for the remaining scenes involving Reed’s character Proximo due to Reed dying of a heart attack during production. Gladiator premiered in Los Angeles on May 1, 2000, and was released theatrically in Australia on May 4, the United States on May 5 and in the United Kingdom on May 11.
The film received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for the acting (particularly Crowe’s and Phoenix’s performances), Scott’s direction, visuals, screenplay, action sequences, musical score and the production values. It was a box office success, grossing $187.7 million in the United States and grossed $457 million worldwide, making it the second highest-grossing film of 2000. The film won multiple awards, including five at the 73rd Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Actor for Crowe, Best Costume Design, Best Sound and Best Visual Effects. It also received four BAFTA Awards at the 54th British Academy Film Awards for Best Film, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design and Best Editing. Since its release, Gladiator has also been credited with reinventing the sword-and-sandal genre and rekindling interest in entertainment centered around the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, such as the television series Rome.