Box-office update: Guardians of the Galaxy breaks more records while the “faith-based” genre underperforms

guardiansofthegalaxyThis is my first box-office update since July, and a lot has happened since then.

The big news, of course, is the phenomenal success of Guardians of the Galaxy, a film that was based on one of the more obscure Marvel properties, had no major stars, and revolved around some pretty wacky ideas (like a talking, machine-gun-toting raccoon), yet still managed to become the top-grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe movie without Iron Man, at least in North America.

Overseas, it ranks behind all of the Marvel sequels, but ahead of all their other “original” films except for The Avengers — and that was really kind of a super-sequel, too. So you could say that, worldwide, Guardians of the Galaxy is the top-grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that introduced a new set of characters.

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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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Hercules the latest ancient epic to come out in early 2014

As a Bible-movie buff, I have paid quite a bit of attention at this blog to the three biblical stories that are hitting the big screen next year. But every now and then I like to take a step back and remember that these movies are part of an even broader trend involving ancient history and/or mythology.

Case in point: Summit Entertainment announced today that they have acquired distribution rights to Hercules: The Legend Begins and will release the film February 7. And that is only the first Hercules movies to come out next year, the other being a flick starring Dwayne “The RocK” Johnson that comes out July 25.

In addition to that, we also have the sequel to 300 coming out in the next few months, as well as a 3D movie about Pompeii. And this is all coming on the heels of recent Greco-Roman flicks like Clash of the Titans (2010), Immortals (2011) and Wrath of the Titans (2012), to say nothing of the Percy Jackson films (2010-2013), which are based on ancient Greek mythology but are set in the present day.

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One more ancient-Greek movie to add to the mix!

I may have written my post on possible upcoming Greco-Roman movies too soon. Today, MGM (the studio that is currently pondering a remake of Ben-Hur) and Paramount (the studio that is currently making Noah — which admittedly has nothing to do with Greece or Rome, but it does take place within a similar sort of ancient mythic context) announced that their adaptation of Steve Moore’s Hercules comics will come out next year. The film, which has been in development for at least five years, currently has Brett Ratner attached to direct and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson attached to star. The projected release date is August 8, 2014 — or less than five months after the release of Noah.


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