Starz has extended its commitment original series Spartacus: Blood and Sand to a second campaign, before the action-adventure series takes its first step before viewers next month.
Executives at the premium programmer have given the green light to a 13-episode sophomore season before the series' premiere on Jan. 22 at 10 p.m. (ET/PT).
While some networks, like Showtime with Edie Falco's Nurse Jackie, have been quick to endorse a second season shortly after a show's initial airing, Starz's move is in unusual because it precedes Spartacus: Blood and Sand's premiere.
The go-ahead enables returning executive producers Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Joshua Donen and Steven DeKnight, the series' head writer, to begin production in New Zealand on the new installments in the first quarter of 2010.
The second season is currently titled Spartacus: Vengeance, but the network declined to disclose other details, so as not to spoil any plot turns from the first season.
Marketing for the first season, which is shot in virtual environments, a la the graphic novel style of such theatricals as 300 and Sin City, is ramping up as some 4 million moviegoers saw the new Spartacus: Blood and Sand trailer in theaters over this past weekend and it is expected to go wide online today.
"We couldn't be happier with the first season. Spartacus delivers on all levels - action, characters, intrigue, romance and excitement," said Starz Entertainment executive vice president of programming Stephan Shelanski, in a statement. "Spartacus is the most ambitious original project we've ever undertaken, and speaks to the commitment to our subscribers to provide truly original programming along with our unmatched lineup of theatrical features."
Spartacus: Blood and Sand features Australian newcomer Andy Whitfield as the title character, a Thracian fighting to return to his wife after being sold into slavery at a gladiatorial school. He is joined by Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess, Battlestar: Galactica) as the deceptive Lucretia, John Hannah (The Mummy movies) as her power-hungry husband Batiatus, Peter Mensah (300) as the head of the gladiatorial school, Doctore, as well as other new and familiar faces.