Ridley Scott signs on to produce a movie about King David

Ridley Scott must have enjoyed his time on Exodus: Gods and Kings. First he decided to tackle another project set in ancient Egypt (i.e. the HBO series Pharaoh), and now he and his Exodus partners are tackling yet another project based on the Old Testament.

Variety reports that Scott has agreed to produce an as-yet-untitled film about King David for 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment, the companies behind Exodus. It is not clear at this point whether he intends to direct it as well.

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Moses and the Pharaoh have swords in new Exodus posters

The first posters for Exodus: Gods and Kings are here — and for a film that is supposedly going to be promoted as the next big battle epic from the director of Gladiator, it’s striking to see how sombre and lacking in action these first promotional images are.

They’re also strangely colourless. As you can see from the main poster to the right — which shows Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Ramses kind of glaring at each other while they touch their swords — the images are essentially black-and-white, except for gold-tinted highlights and just a hint of blue.

I also can’t recall ever seeing a Moses movie that made a pyramid as central to its imagery as this poster does. It gives the poster an Illuminati-esque feel, and I’m afraid the first thing it brings to mind is the fact that Exodus director Ridley Scott is attached to an HBO series which will play on the idea that the ancient Egyptian civilization was built in part with help from aliens.

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Box-office update: Poor July 4 attendance affects two movies with a faith hook that are not “faith-based” movies

From the controversy surrounding Alone Yet Not Alone in January to the release of Moms’ Night Out in May, there’s been a lot of talk this year about “faith-based” movies, a genre that apparently covers everything from low-budget Christian propaganda to big-budget Bible movies with a distinctly Jewish sensibility. Curiously, though, one of the most faith-oriented films of the year came out this past week, and no one thought to group it in with the rest.

Well, perhaps it’s not that curious. Deliver Us from Evil, based on a book by retired NYPD sergeant Ralph Sarchie and directed by horror-movie expert Scott Derrickson, may have been made by openly Christian people — see this featurette on Sarchie and my 2005 interview with Derrickon for more on that — but the film is rated R, and it earns that rating with lots of four-letter words and disturbing images. So for those who are inclined to think that “faith-based” films are synonymous with “family” films and the like, there was never any question of putting this film in that category.

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Harry Potter producer takes on revisionist Jesus movie

Last year, Lionsgate announced that they had acquired the film rights to Reza Aslan’s Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, the latest in a long line of books which argue that Jesus was just a man and that Christianity has been getting him wrong since before the first New Testament texts were written.

Today, it was revealed that two actual filmmakers have come on board to adapt the book: producer David Heyman, best known for Gravity and the Harry Potter series, and screenwriter James Schamus, whose credits include all but three of Ang Lee’s feature films.

Deadline, which broke the news, doesn’t have much else to say except that “top directors have expressed interest” in the project. Variety also covered the basic story but without saying anything about possible directors.

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Stalingrad director to tackle Greek-myth flick Odysseus

It took the mythical Odysseus ten years to get home from the Trojan War — twenty if you start counting from the day he left his wife and son behind in Ithaca — and the way things are going, it just might take that long for Warner Brothers to get its long-in-development movie about Odysseus off the ground, too.

Still, at least the studio hasn’t given up on the idea. Deadline reports that the project is still in development, and that Warner has hired a Russian filmmaker named Fedor Bondarchuk, who recently directed the 3D IMAX movie Stalingrad, to direct their adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey from a script by Jeremy Doner.

The film was first announced five years ago when Warner bought a spec script by Ann Peacock, a screenwriter whose credits include an early draft of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The director attached to the project back then — when it was billed as “a bloody relentless revenge movie” — was Jonathan Liebesman, whose credits include Wrath of the Titans and Battle: Los Angeles.

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Box-office update: Robots ride dinosaurs, some films do better than the buzz would suggest, and Noah leaves North American theatres (while enjoying its third week in Japan)

Life was too busy to post a box-office update last week, but that’s okay, I think, since not a lot was happening then.

The big story this week is that Transformers: Age of Extinction supposedly became the first film of the year to gross over $100 million in a single weekend (in North America, that is) — but that figure was quickly disputed by rival studios, who said the film actually came in just a tiny bit beneath that amount. Whatever. It was still pretty huge.

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