Exodus will be a big movie. Not a small movie. A big movie. The studio really wants you to know that.

exodus-facebook-140909In case you haven’t heard, Exodus: Gods and Kings is going to be big. Huge. Epic. Immense. The most embiggened thing that was ever supersized.

20th Century Fox made that point in a featurette that came out last week. In less than two minutes, the filmmakers used words like “epic”, “massive” (twice!), “giant”, “immense”, “big”, “bigger”, “exponentially” and “biggest” to describe their movie — and now the movie’s Facebook page is posting photos with those size-emphasizing quotes.

Today’s photo is yet another brand new shot from the opening battle sequence. (If there’s one thing the studio has emphasized more than the bigness of this film, it’s the fact that the movie has an opening battle sequence.)

There’s Moses, and he’s got his bow out, and the group of soldiers beating up on each other seems appropriately multiethnic — and at the top of it all is a quote from the production designer, who declares, “It’s an IMMENSE production.”

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Here we go again: Ridley Scott’s Exodus and “accuracy”

Longtime readers of this blog will know that I’m no fan of the expression “biblically accurate”. It’s not that I don’t like analyzing biblical and historical epics to see where they deviate from their source material; I do that sort of thing all the time. Rather, the problem is the way that phrase has been turned into a weapon, signifying little more than whether or not a movie has earned the approval of the person who uses that phrase.

Just in the past year and a half, we have seen people call The Bible and its big-screen spin-off Son of Godbiblically accurate” even though that miniseries was full of embellishments and got many details wrong, and we have also seen people condemn Noah for its alleged lack of accuracy even though it tackled lots of obscure biblical details that many people never think about. One film was “accurate” because it gave the audience what it wanted, and the other wasn’t because it didn’t.

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Ridley Scott’s Moses movie not quite done filming yet

Ridley Scott started shooting his Moses movie Exodus: Gods and Kings nine months ago, and there was so much buzz about the film earlier this year — from the first official pictures released around New Year’s Day to the coverage it got in the foreign press in March — that I’d kind of assumed that he had finished shooting it by now, and that all he had to worry about, between now and the film’s release in December, was the editing, the visual effects (the 3D parting of the Red Sea, etc.), the music and so on.

But apparently the cameras are still rolling. An article posted yesterday at Albawabh News, an Egyptian website, claims that Scott will finish shooting some scenes in and around the temples of Aswan “next Sunday” — at least as translated by Google.

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Paramount and MGM team up for the Ben-Hur remake

If there’s one studio that has consistently tried to revive the Bible epic since the genre died in the 1960s, it’s Paramount.

They were involved with Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ in the early 1980s, until protesters prompted them to pull the plug mere days before the film was supposed to start shooting.

They were the ones who produced King David, starring Richard Gere, in 1985.

And they were the ones who gave the green light to Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, which is now the second-highest-grossing Bible movie ever worldwide, behind Mel Gibson’s independently-produced The Passion of the Christ (2004).

So now, reports Variety, they are teaming up with MGM to co-produce the upcoming version of Ben-Hur, which will be directed by Timur Bekmambetov from a script by John Ridley, who recently won an Oscar for his work on 12 Years a Slave.

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How well have movies depicted Jesus the exorcist?

The History Channel had a huge hit this year with The Bible, but the makers of that mini-series are taking the sequel to another network, so it’s not too surprising that the History Channel turned to someone else to make a follow-up of their own. What is surprising is that their next Jesus-themed series will be made by a bunch of horror-movie veterans, including Eli Roth, director of Hostel (2005-2007), Eric Newman, producer of the Dawn of the Dead remake (2004) and the prequel to The Thing (2011), and Scott Kosar, a writer whose credits include the remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) and The Amityville Horror (2005). Roth and Newman also co-produced The Last Exorcism (2010-2013).

Deadline says the series is currently called The Lost Years and will look at what Jesus was up to between the ages of 13 and 30. The series will also reportedly fit into the horror genre as it explores “a theory about Jesus’ origins as an exorcist.”

Given the pedigree of everyone involved, this could easily be very schlocky (“Jesus The Teenage Demon Slayer,” as Matthew Archbold puts it). And yet I can’t help thinking that performing exorcisms was a major part of Jesus’ ministry, and it’s possible the Jesus-movie genre hasn’t paid as much attention to that side of him as it could.

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How do you promote a Bible epic when you’re not religious?

Ridley Scott first revealed that he was making a life-of-Moses movie while promoting Prometheus last year. I’d been hoping that he would spill even more details about the film, now called Exodus, while promoting his latest film, The Counselor, but alas, that film didn’t get much of a promotional push (and it ended up having one of the worst opening weekends of Scott’s career).

A few tidbits about Exodus have trickled out, however. First, Scott told The New York Times: “I’m an atheist, which is actually good, because I’ve got to convince myself the story works.” And then, he told Empire magazine the film will be “fucking huge.”

Suffice it to say, this is not how Bible epics have generally been promoted in the past.

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