The Spartacus franchise will end its original run on Starz after its upcoming campaign.
The premium network announced today Spartacus: War of the Damned, currently in production in New Zealand, will conclude the retelling of gladiator-turned-rebel tale.
More than 6 million weekly viewers watched last season, Spartacus: Vengeance, across various airings, The sandal and shield series, which has amassed more than 2.5 million Facebook fans, runs in 150 countries in more than 15 languages.
"The fans have been tremendously supportive of our show," said creator and executive producer, Steven DeKnight in a statement. "We did not come to this decision lightly. It was an extremely difficult and emotional decision for my partners and I. Yet, in the end, the story was best served by rolling all of the remaining action and drama of Spartacus' journey into one stunningly epic season that will be extremely satisfying for everyone who's been along for the ride."
Noted Starz CEO Chris Albrecht: "Steven DeKnight, Rob Tapert, Josh Donen and Sam Raimi have made one of the most groundbreaking shows we have ever seen. Spartacus is a landmark series for the network which has enthralled millions of viewers and fans around the world. We are in agreement with our partners in the decision to conclude the story after War of the Damned, as we believe it is the best way to maintain the integrity of the series and secure its legacy. While everyone may know the fate of Spartacus, we believe this will be a spectacular season that will startle, amaze and honor the legions of fans."
Starz's Spartacus franchise began its run on Jan. 22, 2010 with Blood and Sand. When Andy Whitfield, who played the title character, became ill, Starz commissioned a six-episode prequel, Gods of the Arena, which aired in January 2011. Liam McIntyre was cast in lead role for Spartacus: Vegneance after Whitfield suffered a recurrence of the non-Hodgkin-lymphoma, which took his life last September.
Vengeance hit the air on Jan. 27, 2012 and War of the Damned is scheduled to premiere January 2013.
War of the Damned takes place following the defeat of Roman commander Gaius Claudius Glaber. Spartacus and his men have amassed major victories against the Romans after the Battle of Vesuvius. These victories have not only forged the legend of Spartacus, but have greatly increased the ranks of the rebellion slaves to more than 30,000. Rome is indeed beginning to tremble at the threat Spartacus now represents.
The Emmy-nominated series, already known for its ground-breaking production and highly styled visuals, will include the construction of a full city, a Roman Villa, and the scene of the epic battle along the Appian Way, during its final season.
In addition to McIntyre, the series final season will return Manu Bennett (Crixus), Dustin Clare (Gannicus), Dan Feuerriegel (Agron), Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Naevia) and Ellen Hollman (Saxa). This year, Todd Lasance joins the cast as Gaius Julius Caesar, along with Simon Merrells, who will be playing Marcus Crassus and Anna Hutchison as Laeta.