Box-office update: R-rated Neighbors a smash hit, PG-rated Moms’ Night Out disappoints, and more

Two comedies came out this week. Both of them have something to say about the importance of marriage and family, and both of them have something to say about the fleeting nature of wild and crazy youth. One of these films is raunchy and R-rated, and it was a box-office hit. The other is rated a family-friendly PG, and it was a box-office disappointment.

Neighbors, the R-rated hit, opened to $51.1 million this week, which is easily the best non-animated opening of Seth Rogen’s career, and one of the best openings for a live-action comedy ever. (Most of the comedies that have had better openings were sequels or action-comedy hybrids; the few exceptions are Bruce Almighty, Ted and maybe Valentine’s Day and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.)

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The Bible follow-up A.D. to premiere next Easter

A.D., the follow-up to Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s hit mini-series The Bible, now has an airdate. NBC announced today that the 12-hour series will premiere on Easter Sunday next year, i.e. April 5. That makes sense, since the series will begin with the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus — territory already covered at some length by The Bible — before it proceeds to show how the Church grew beyond that point. No word on who will star in it yet.

Will Idris Elba and Oprah Winfrey co-star in The Shack?

A few months ago it was announced that Forest Whitaker was in talks to direct and star in an adaptation of The Shack, the best-selling book about a man who loses his daughter to a serial killer and then spends a weekend discussing the problem of evil with God.

Now The Tracking Board reports that Idris Elba has been offered a lead role in the film, and that Oprah Winfrey might also be in the mix. Since God appears in the book as an African-American woman, it is not surprising that some people have assumed that Oprah will be playing God.

The bigger question is who Elba will be playing. I have not read The Shack, but friends of mine who have tell me that one of the key themes in the book is how the white male protagonist learns to accept that God can appear to him as something other than a white man like him. That theme could be muted somewhat if the protagonist is a black person just like God.

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Roberto Orci: the first Trekkie to direct a Star Trek film?

Deadline reports that Roberto Orci, who co-wrote the last two Star Trek films and has overseen the comic books that take place between the movies, is “the clear frontrunner” to direct the next one.

I could be mistaken, but if Orci gets the job, I believe he would be the first Trekkie to direct an actual Star Trek film.

Of the twelve films produced so far, six were directed by veterans of the various TV shows: actors Leonard Nimoy (ST3:TSFS, ST4:TVH), William Shatner (ST5:TFF) and Jonathan Frakes (ST:FC, ST:I), plus episodic director David Carson (ST:G).

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Creation, evolution, the Fall and more in a new Noah clip

Six weeks after Noah came out in theatres, the filmmakers have released another clip — and it’s one of the best sequences in the entire film. The Creation sequence begins with a single shot that captures billions of years of evolution, from the Big Bang to the mammals that existed just before humanity came along, and it goes on to show the Fall, Cain killing Abel, and the violence that has continued throughout human history right up to the present day. You can watch the video — and read a few thoughts I have about the significance of this clip — below the jump.

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Noah news round-up: a Chinese ban and a popular name

Like most blockbusters these days, Noah has made a lot more money overseas than it has in North America — but simply getting the film released overseas has been more of a challenge than usual.

First it was banned in some (but not all) Muslim countries for dramatizing the life of one of the prophets. Then it was held back in the Philippines because of a legal battle between two distributors. And now it has been blocked by censors in China — the second-largest film market in the world — for being too religious.

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