Exodus news round-up: a set visit, a casting controversy, and who exactly is Ben Mendelsohn playing?

2014-08-04 14.06.09The current issue of Empire magazine has a report from the set of Exodus: Gods and Kings, and while it doesn’t have all that much new information, it does include a few new pictures and a few new details.

For one thing, it confirms that the giant face we saw in the first official photo from the film is meant to be an image of Ramses II, the Pharaoh played by Joel Edgerton — and it adds the detail that this monument is part of a massive new city being built by the Hebrews called Pi-Ramses. So it looks like this film will follow the scholarly convention of equating the biblical city “Rameses”, mentioned in Exodus 1, with the historical Pi-Ramesses.

The article also mentions that the film will feature “seven — count ’em! — plagues and natural disasters”. Only seven? There are ten in the Bible, though this needn’t be an inaccuracy on the film’s part. If memory serves, The Ten Commandments (1956) really only showed three — the water turning to blood, the hailstorm and the death of the firstborn — but it alluded to the others in its dialogue. So it’s certainly possible that Exodus might show “only” seven but allow for the other three somehow.

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Terminator update: tweaked title, new actor

terminatorgenesis-genisysTwo quick Terminator updates.

First: for a while now, word around the campfire has been that the new Terminator movie will be called Terminator: Genesis, in keeping with the franchise’s penchant for quasi-biblical titles such as Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Terminator Salvation.

Well, a photo posted by Arnold Schwarzenegger on his Facebook page today sort of confirms this rumour, but with a twist: instead of “Genesis”, the word used in the movie’s working title is “Genisys”. For some reason this reminds me of how the company responsible for the simian flu in the last two Planet of the Apes movies was called Gen Sys. Does it refer to Cyberdyne’s successor, perhaps?

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Yet another movie about the Maccabees in development?

pablojosebarrosoDeadline and other websites are reporting that Mexican producer Pablo José Barroso (For Greater Glory, etc.) has announced a number of “faith-based” movie and TV projects. The one that catches my eye is a live-action film about the Maccabees, the Jewish rebels who defeated the Greek Syrians in the 2nd century BC. At least two films about the Maccabees have been proposed in recent years — one by Mel Gibson and one by Bruce Nash — though nothing has come to fruition so far. There is no word yet as to who might be writing or directing Barroso’s film, but I’ll post more details if any come along.

The next Pharaoh… will come from Vancouver

avanjogiaWe have a King Tut! The Hollywood Reporter says Avan Jogia, a 22-year-old born in my native Vancouver, has been cast as the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, who died when he was about 18, in the Spike TV miniseries Tut. He joins the previously announced Ben Kingsley, who will play Tutankhamun’s grand vizier. Interestingly, both of these actors are half-British and half-Indian — and Reece Ritchie, who played the Pharaoh in the recently cancelled Hieroglyph, is a half-English, half-South African actor who has often played Indian characters himself, in films and TV shows like The Lovely Bones, All in Good Time and White Heat. Apparently the casting agents on these shows want to move away from the Caucasian casting that has proved so controversial on films like Exodus: Gods and Kings (coming December 12) and Gods of Egypt (coming in 2016), but they also aren’t inclined to follow the Afrocentrist line which holds that just because Egypt is on the African continent, it therefore follows that the ancient Egyptians must have been just as dark-skinned as the Nubians or Ethiopians, etc. The solution, it seems, has been to cast actors who fall somewhere between the two extremes, pigmentation-wise.

Noah gets an infographic and an Ark-building app

noah-appNoah may have come out on DVD last week, and it may have come to digital streaming two weeks before that, but that doesn’t mean the promotional efforts around this film have come to an end. Today Paramount sent out an e-mail with links to two new tie-ins: an infographic with animated GIFs and brief excerpts from the Blu-Ray’s making-of featurettes, and a ‘Noah Ark Builder App’ which is basically a matching game that allows you to collect food, build the Ark, and load the animals. (It may or may not allow you to do more than that, but I haven’t made it past that level yet.) The app includes tiny clips from the film and bits of the score by Clint Mansell.

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Shakespeare and Draco Malfoy go looking for the body of Jesus in Clavius (formerly known as Resurrection)

josephfiennesJoseph Fiennes — best known perhaps for playing the title character in Shakespeare in Love — has been cast as an agnostic Roman centurion who goes looking for the body of Jesus in a film called Clavius. Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, has also been cast in the film in an unspecified role.

Clavius is one of a number of films that were first put into development in the years following The Passion of the Christ — and like, say, Christ the Lord, it is only now going into production after years of rewrites and moving from one company to another, etc., etc.

It all began in 2007, when Hyde Park hired Paul Aiello to write Risen: The Story of the First Easter. Then, in 2013, LD Entertainment hired Kevin Reynolds to rewrite the film with Karen Janszen and direct it under the title Resurrection. And now, according to Deadline, Reynolds is going to start shooting the film in Malta and Spain this month, aiming for an Easter 2015 release date.

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