How a Reddit thread inspired Hollywood to make a movie

Wouldn’t it be cool if a random answer in your head to a fantasy question could manifest itself into an idea so large that there would be a movie made around it? Sounds like a plot right out of a flick, doesn’t it? However, this seems to be very real for a Reddit user whose answer to a tactical military question is now being turned into a Hollywood film.

It started with a simple question, “Could I destroy the entire Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus if I traveled back in time with a modern U.S. Marine infantry battalion or MEU?” The puzzler was posed in August 2011 by a Reddit user called The_Quiet_Earth, who had been intrigued by the thought after watching HBO’s Rome and Generation Kill simultaneously.

This should be a fun watch (Image Credit: Getty Images)

This should be a fun watch (Image Credit: Getty Images)


The post, which has nearly 4,000 comments, prompted military historian James Erwin to think about the possible outcome of the battle. Erwin told The Financial Times that it took an hour out during lunch break to weave a story around the topic. The historian believed that “maybe a hundred nerds would read it and enjoy it.” Instead, by the time he reached home at five, the Reddit thread had exploded and his blog post “Rome, Sweet Rome” had seen a quarter of a million readers.

A week later, Erwin got a contract by Warner Brothers and Hollywood  offered him a “pretty obscene amount of money” for a screenplay based around his post. The story was eventually written in the form of a diary, from the perspective of a US marine who finds himself, as well as his battalion, in the reign of Augustus.

The screenplay has been written and the movie is about to be filmed. However, Erwin is cashing in on his new-found stardom well. He has returned back to his technical writing job and is authoring a novel currently. Erwin is also looking at launching a Kickstarter campaign to help him get his novel out. Awesome, isn’t it? Now someone make a movie around James Erwin’s life, quick!

Published Date: May 28, 2013 04:25 pm | Updated Date: May 28, 2013 04:25 pm