Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily has some interesting comments on the box-office prospects for Evan Almighty, which opens this Friday. Given that this is rumoured to be the most expensive comedy ever made, it sounds like the studio has good reason to be concerned it might not make its money back.
It’s an interesting read, and you can make what you will of it, but one paragraph leaves me scratching my head:
Universal moguls have convinced themselves that religious America will turn out for this family fun in droves. I’m not so sure, and I may look like an idiot at the end of the summer by saying so. Even though the studio is dragging out every trick in the Christian playbook, including that PR firm to the religious right Grace Hill Media, to convince holy-rollers in fly-over country to see this take-off on the already tired Noah’s Ark tale. I suspect The Passion Of The Christ crowd wants stories based on the New Testament than the Old Testament. Leave it to heathen Hollywood not to comprehend that.
Does that sound right to anyone else? Most Christians I know like stories from both Testaments. And while there haven’t been all that many biblical movies in the past few years, audiences have not necessarily preferred the New Testament to the Old.
Case in point: The Prince of Egypt (1998) grossed $101.4 million in North America and $218.6 million worldwide — which, at the time, made it the top-grossing non-Disney animated film of all time — whereas The Nativity Story (2006) grossed only $37.6 million in North America and $45.6 million worldwide.
Even taking into account the fact that one film had a massive production and marketing budget, while the other film was made on a more modest scale, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of pattern here — and if there is, it points in the opposite direction.