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'Spartacus' to end after three

Liam McIntyre as Spartacus in Starz's “Spartacus: Vengeance.”

Liam McIntyre as Spartacus in Starz's “Spartacus: Vengeance.” Credit: Starz Entertainment

"Spartacus” -- by far the biggest hit in Starz history and no slouch as far as any TV network would be concerned -- will end after the third season, the network announced today.

Reasons? Always look to the money -- always -- but Steven S. DeKnight, series, creator, certainly doesn't indicate that in his answer to the “why” question (see below) to the Hollywood Reporter, which first broke this.

The numbers seem fine -- believe it has been tracked around 6 million viewers on Fridays, though uncertain of how the second has ended up. The show lost its dynamic lead, Andy Whitfield, to cancer, and he was replaced by Liam McIntyre and whether hard core show fans ever full accepted McIntyre is a question only they know.

Nevertheless, this is big. The third season is in production now, and then it's all over. 

Here are the key paragraphs from the news release, just out now, and DeKnight's comments to THR below. Reasons cited -- creative. 

“The fans have been tremendously supportive of our show,” says creator and executive producer, Steven S. DeKnight. “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."

“Steven DeKnight, Rob Tapert, Josh Donen and Sam Raimi have made one of the most groundbreaking shows we have ever seen,” says Starz chief executive Chris Albrecht. "’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.”

“Spartacus: War of the Damned,” currently in production in New Zealand, 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.  

Here's DeKnight, to THR:

“Shocking, isn't it? It's a bit unheard of to end a show when it's doing better than ever. It's a bold move, and we talked about it with Starz. How long do you run a show? Do you run it until you can squeeze every last bit of revenue out of it, or do you end it on a high note? That was part of the decision to wrap up the show: The idea of ending the show when you're on top and the audience still wants more instead of dragging it out until it starts to wane and you kind of limp to the finish line. I've always thought that five seasons was the perfect number; you've got enough time to tell a great story, but there's not so much real estate that you start to get a little flabby in the middle. This is ending a season early. Spartacus is a bit of an unusual duck. We've always had an ending -- it's written in history -- so we knew where we were shooting for. My original thought was that this show could go five to seven seasons, but we realized the actual history is very scattershot: The rebels went north, south, east, west, then back north, then broke apart, came back together. We thought, instead of repeating ourselves with one wave of Roman senators after another going after Spartacus, getting defeated, going after Spartacus, getting defeated, why not really condense the story, give the juiciest parts to Marcus Crassus (Simon Merrells). It's like 'The Princess Bride': Cut out all the boring bits and just make the best, most rip-roaring-est tale we can to wrap up the series.”

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