Netflix Making An In-Depth Movie About Alexander The Great

Netflix is developing a docudrama series on Alexander the Great.

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

Colin Farrell in Alexander

Netflix is going big with their next docudrama, the awkward genre combining a documentary with scripted dramatic elements; in fact, this next project will be great. Deadline broke the news that the streaming service is bringing Alexander the Great to life as the next big docudrama, following the success of The Last Czars and African Queens. This will be the first major project focused on the life and legacy of history’s greatest general since Oliver Stone’s much-maligned epic, Alexander, starring Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie, set records as one of the biggest flops of the century.

According to the report, Netflix has had production crews filming around Morocco for over a year. British production companies Lion TV and Tailfeather Productions have been signed on, with Tony Mitchell onboard as the showrunner. Hugh Ballantyne is directing, and with a filmography that includes Man vs. Wild and Locked Up Aboard, is well-suited for the hybrid docudrama approach.

With this announcement, Netflix is taking a major gamble, Alexander the Great’s conquest of the known world seems like it would be perfect fodder for a series, but to date, no one has been able to pull it off. The historical figure became King of Macedon at the age of 20 in 336 BC, and within 10 years, had gone further and conquered more than anyone else in history, before or since. Filled with famous figures of the time, including King Darius of Persia and the famous philosopher Aristotle, the legend of Alexander could be the basis for the next Game of Thrones-styled series.

Alas, Netflix is cutting the legend of Alexander the Great down the middle and isn’t committing to either a documentary or a dramatic series, and though the previous two shows in this genre were successful, it’s still disappointing. Stretching from ancient Greece to India, Alexander’s conquests would allow for epic battle scenes with chariots and elephants, followed by dramatic episodes of the political machinations involved in managing the largest empire in human history. Add in the eventual mutiny, assassination attempts, and Cletus the Black, and it already sounds like a season of House of the Dragon.

The best adaptation of his life and conquests was made in 1956, starring Richard Burton, and is available now on Netflix. At nearly two and a half hours in length, Alexander the Great was a long movie for the time, but critics noted that it had very little downtime and defied expectations that it would be boring. Though praised by critics, as with Stone’s movie nearly 50 years later, it failed to earn back its budget at the box office.

Can Netflix’s latest docudrama reverse the curse of adapting Alexander the Great? Or is it doomed to the dustbin of history? The most successful projects to date have been documentaries, notably the BBC’s In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, so this could be the one subject that a docudrama is perfectly suited to cover.

There is no release date or cast for Netflix’s Alexander the Great series, but no matter who plays the young king, they will be better suited than Colin Farrell.