When two-time Jeopardy champion James Erwin answered a hypothetical question on the social news website Reddit, he couldn’t have guessed that the resulting story would turn into a site-wide sensation—much less a Hollywood production.
According to the Daily Dot, it all began with a question posted by a user named The_Quiet_Earth, who apparently had been watching a lot of HBO's “Rome” and “Generation Kill” and subsequently ended up wondering if U.S. Marines would be any match for Roman soldiers. So he asked his fellow users, “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?”
In response, Erwin—also known by his Reddit name Prufrock451—crafted a lengthy, action-packed story about a team of Marines that travel back in time to Ancient Rome. That saga, “Rome Sweet Rome,” eventually spawned its own Reddit sub-section and attracted a huge fan following—including Adam Kolbrenner, an employee of L.A. production company Madhouse Entertainment.
Kolbrenner got in touch with Erwin and worked with him on “refining” the story before pitching it to Warner Bros. exec Chris Gary. And lo and behold, Gary snapped up the rights to a “Rome Sweet Rome” film.
This was all a shock to Erwin, who wasn’t exactly thinking “movie deal” when he posted his story on Reddit. “I was thinking that maybe a couple hundred people would take a few seconds to say ‘That was fun’ or even just vote on the comment,” he told the Daily Dot. “I never would have expected a response like the one I got.”