Return of the Titans: Are We Seeing a Mythology Renaissance?

By  · Published on February 12th, 2010

After being inundated with a slew of ads for Clash of the Titans and Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, it’s completely obvious that Greek mythology is poised to be the latest trend for Hollywood. But unlike vampires or pirates, there hasn’t been a recent proven Greek mythology hit to alleviate the fears of today’s risk adverse Hollywood.

Hollywood certainly had reason to be cautious. The last big budget attempt at cashing in on Greek mythology, Troy, was a nonstarter in the US, making only $135 million domestically (although it did well worldwide, grossing just under $500 million in total). On paper Troy looked like a surefire hit: epic sets, big battles and a star studded ensemble cast of proven stars (Brad Pitt, Peter O’Toole), future stars (Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Diane Kruger, Garrett Hedlund, Rose Byrne) and seasoned character actors (Brian Cox, Brendan Gleesen, Sean Bean). So when the film failed to go huge in the US it seemed like the Greek gods would probably be relegated to high school English classes for the foreseeable future. So why the recent Hollywood leap of faith?

In small part, since no one owns the rights to the Greek gods and characters or their time tested stories so there’s less of a chance of being sued. But the real reason for the Greek surge is Zack Snyder’s 300. Snyder proved that with a relatively small budget ($65 Million), savvy visual effects and a relatively unknown cast you could still deliver a $200 million (domestic) sword and sandal mega hit. Clash of the Titans is following the 300 formula to a tee by employing a seasoned but not super expensive action director (Louis Lettier of Transporter, The Incredible Hulk fame), an estimated $70 million budget and a leading man on the verge of breaking out (Avatar’s Sam Worthington).

Despite 300’s successful formula, Hollywood is still being a bit guarded. Both Clash of the Titans and Percy Jackson are based on established contemporary source materials that have built upon classic Greek mythology. And taking a lesson from the US vs worldwide appeal of Troy, Clash of the Titans will open around the world March 26th, a week earlier than the April 2nd US release date. The success of Clash of the Titans and Percy Jackson will also determine the fate of a glut of Greek mythology films in development holding pattern including Tarsem Singh’s Dawn of War (formally titled War of the Gods), Brett Ratner’s God of War videogame adaptation, and The Argonauts written by Zak Penn to name a few.