Box office: Exodus: Gods and Kings loses its audience faster than any recent Bible movie or Ridley Scott film

exodus-yahoo-5Exodus: Gods and Kings already had the smallest first-weekend gross of the year’s three Bible movies. Now it has the steepest second-weekend drop.

Exodus earned an estimated $8.1 million this weekend, which represents a drop of 66.6% since last week. (Yes, that’s the actual number being floated by Box Office Mojo.) That’s steeper than the 59.5% by which Son of God dropped in March and the 61% by which Noah dropped in April.

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A brief comment on the Exodus: Gods and Kings casting controversy

exodus-yahoo-3Three months ago, Ridley Scott noted that the actors he hired for Exodus: Gods and Kings represent a range of different ethnicities, and hardly anyone noticed. Last week, he made an off-the-cuff remark about how he couldn’t cast some obscure Middle Eastern actor as the lead in a massively expensive movie such as this, and the internet went berserk.

Scott’s comment was quickly assumed by many people to mean that he was justifying hiring an “all-white” cast. Many people claimed, dubiously, that it would be more historically accurate if the villainous Egyptian slave masters, many of whom are killed by an act of God at the Red Sea, were played by black actors instead. (Just think what sort of controversies there would be if the film had gone that route.)

Jonathan Merritt even went so far as to say today that no Bible movie — not even The Nativity Story, which cast a Maori girl as the Virgin Mary, a Palestinian as her mother and Iranians as her father and cousin Elizabeth — has made any progress when it comes to casting ethnically-appropriate actors. Apparently the fact that Keisha Castle-Hughes was born in Australia disqualifies that film somehow. Seriously?

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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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Muslim responses to Darren Aronofsky’s Noah

While flood stories are common to many ancient mythologies, the story of Noah per se first appears in the Book of Genesis, which is common to the Jewish and Christian scriptures. So it goes without saying that Christians and Jews have been actively debating the merits of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah since before the film came out two weeks ago.

But the story of Noah is also central to the Muslim faith; there is even an entire sura devoted to him in the Koran. Despite this, there hasn’t been much talk about Muslim responses to the film, at least not in my news feeds, apart from some mention of the fact that certain Muslim countries have banned the film while certain other countries haven’t.

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Ridley Scott to explore whether Moses was agnostic, etc.

The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly has an article on ‘Hollywood’s New Holy War’. The hook for the story is the three Bible movies coming out this year, but the story itself takes a broader look at how movie studios have been openly courting the Christian demographic ever since the surprise success of The Passion of the Christ ten years ago.

Sometimes, as the article notes, the studios’ efforts have been pretty successful (The Chronicles of Narnia, The Blind Side), and sometimes they have been… not so successful (The Nativity Story, Evan Almighty).

But what catches my eye is a sidebar on Ridley Scott’s life-of-Moses movie Exodus, which has a couple of new quotes from Scott and Christian Bale:
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Ridley Scott’s “unconventional depiction of God” in Exodus

Many blogs were quick to note The Hollywood Reporter’s story today on the making of Noah. Few if any, however, noted a sidebar to the Reporter story which gave a nod to the other two Bible movies coming out this year, i.e. Son of God and Ridley Scott’s Exodus.

The sidebar doesn’t offer much new info about either of those films, but it does include this bit about Exodus: “Details are scarce, but sources tell THR that Scott, an avowed agnostic, has chosen an unconventional depiction of God in the film. If so, it faces the same challenge in wooing religious audiences as Noah does.”

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