Gladiator director Sir Ridley Scott has confirmed that his next project will be the historical epic The Crusades.

Speaking in London on Sept 9 after a BAFTA screening of his latest film Matchstick Men, Scott said he planned to begin filming early next year in Spain and North Africa.

Despite the sensitive subject matter of The Crusades, Scott appears keen to press on with the project which he has been developing for several years.

It is understood that the film will explore the rights and wrongs of the Western interference in the Middle East.

The first Crusade was launched in 1095 by Pope Urban II with the aim of capturing Jerusalem from the Muslims. In all, the Crusades lasted over 250 years.

The Crusades project marks the latest in a line of 'sword and sandal' historical epics that are now in the works following the success of Scott's Gladiator. Oliver Stone and Baz Luhrmann are both readying versions of Alexander The Great, while Wolfgang Petersen is currently shooting Troy.

Scott's Matchstick Men opens in North America this Friday (Sep 12) and in London's West End from Sep 19 before going wide across the UK on Sep 26.

Together with Scott, one of the film's stars, Alison Lohman, took part in Q&A session at BAFTA which was hosted by UK film critic Mark Kermode.