Son of God news round-up: a box-office update, thoughts on Peter Bart’s “open letter” to Mark Burnett, and more

The makers of Son of God promoted the film quite heavily during the run-up to its release two weeks ago, and they kept at it during the film’s first week in theatres — but the publicity machine has slowed down considerably since then, and now, in its third weekend, Son of God is estimated to have grossed about $5.4 million, which puts it in 7th place for the week.

That figure is down 48% from last weekend, which, percentage-wise, is the second-largest drop in this week’s top ten (the biggest is the 57.6% by which 300: Rise of an Empire fell from its opening last week). With a weekend take of $1,806 per screen, Son of God also had the second-lowest per-screen average in the top ten, ahead of only the $1,444 per screen taken in by Frozen, the Oscar-winning Disney cartoon that has been playing in theatres for almost four months now.

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The Noah marketing campaign adds a disclaimer

Two years ago, when Paramount Pictures first announced that it was producing Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, the studio said the film would be “a close adaptation of the Biblical story”. Now, after a couple weeks of sometimes baffling controversy, the studio is taking a different tack, announcing yesterday that it will add a disclaimer to many of the upcoming ads and trailers for the film to clarify that it is an “imaginative” adaptation of the story and not a “literal” one.

The Wrap, for its part, reports that the disclaimer has been added to the film as well, though neither of the trade papers linked above support that claim.

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Darwin Shaw on playing St Peter (and a Lego Bond villain)

The apostle Peter is not the first biblical character that Darwin Shaw has played in his decade or so as an actor. You can see him briefly as Adam, in a new prologue to the Campus Crusade film Jesus (1979) that was shot a few years ago, and you can also see him as the “Semitic Jesus” in Gospel of Thomas (2009), an interactive adaptation of the Gnostic text that allows you to toggle between different actors. (Another actor plays the “Western Jesus”.)

But Peter is easily the biggest role of this sort that Shaw has tackled so far. He appears in all five of the New Testament-themed episodes in last year’s mini-series The Bible, and he will appear again this week in Son of God, the big-screen movie that consists mostly of footage from that mini-series but also includes a few new scenes.

I spoke to Shaw — whose credits also include Casino Royale (2006), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), John Carter (2012) and a deleted scene from Prometheus (2012) — by phone last week while he was in Los Angeles to promote Son of God.

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Son of God producers cast Satan out of their film

One of the more interesting things about last year’s mini-series The Bible was the way it linked the Old and New Testaments by making the character of Satan a recurring presence, from the Garden of Eden to the city of Sodom to the temptation and crucifixion of Jesus.

All of that footage, however, has been cut from Son of God, the big-screen Bible spin-off opening next week — partly because of a bogus controversy that erupted last year over the actor’s alleged resemblance to President Obama.

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The Prodigal Son: three filmed interpretations (and more)

Today was the Sunday of the Prodigal Son in Eastern Orthodox churches, and once again, I found myself thinking about how our gospel reading for the day had been handled in different films.

The parable of the prodigal son appears just once in the Bible, in Luke 15, so of course it is featured in the word-for-word adaptation of that gospel produced by the Genesis Project in the 1970s. And just as the Genesis Project dramatizes some of the other parables while Jesus recites them, so too it dramatizes this one. You can watch the relevant sequence by clicking here.

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The Publican and the Pharisee: four filmed interpretations

Today, in Orthodox churches, was the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. It’s the day when we read the parable that Jesus told about a Pharisee and a tax collector who went to the Temple to pray; while the Pharisee spent his prayer bragging that he was a great and righteous man, the tax collector begged for God’s forgiveness — and it was the tax collector, rather than the Pharisee, who “went home justified before God.” And so the parable reminds us that we need to pray in humility, and that it is not our place to judge our fellow human beings.

We read this parable on this day to remind ourselves that Lent is only a few weeks away, and that we should approach the season of fasting and prayer humbly, without judging our fellow churchgoers (or, indeed, anyone else). And, naturally, as I pondered this parable, I began to think about how it has been handled in film.

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