Newsbites: Women of the Bible! Ben-Hur! Noah! Clavius!

redtent-rt_061114_da_0142oIt’s been a big week for Bible-movie news. Here are a few of the highlights.

1. The Lifetime Network announced that Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are producing a two-hour special for them called The Women of the Bible, featuring interviews with famous pastors’ wives (Kay Warren, Victoria Osteen) and others who will tell the stories of Eve, Sarah, Rahab, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary. The special will air right before the premiere of the two-part miniseries The Red Tent on December 7.

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Newsbites: A.D. and The Dovekeepers start production, the political uses of Noah, and more Clavius pictures

ad-twitter-011. It’s been a busy last couple of weeks for Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. Two Mondays ago, they joined forces with MGM to revive the United Artists brand, but they were unavailable for comment at the time because — as we now know from the picture to the right, which was posted to the brand-new A.D. Twitter account yesterday — that was the very same day on which they started shooting the first season of A.D., their follow-up to The Bible, in Morocco.

Burnett did eventually grant a phone interview to Variety to discuss the MGM deal. But he didn’t say anything much about A.D. and, bizarrely, the series does not seem to have an IMDb page yet, so I have no idea who has actually been cast in it or which characters it will focus on. But I’ll keep an eye open for such information and pass it along when I find it.

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Newsbites: A.D.! Ben-Hur! Wilde Salomé!

burnett-downey-unitedartists1. First Mark Burnett and Roma Downey partnered with MGM (and Paramount) on producing the next big-screen version of Ben-Hur. Now the trades are reporting that MGM has bought a majority stake in the production companies run by Burnett and Downey — and, thus, a majority stake in their Bible-themed projects (as well as Burnett’s reality-TV shows, etc.).

Along the way, the trades mention that Burnett and Downey have started principal photography on A.D., their follow-up to The Bible, and that they could not be reached for additional comment because they are currently working on A.D. overseas.

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Ben-Hur gets Mark Burnett, Roma Downey & a release date

Apparently the new Ben-Hur is such a big, big deal that it requires the talents of nearly everyone who has worked on a Bible epic in recent months.

Two days ago, it was revealed that the studio behind Noah was going to co-produce this film, which MGM has been developing for over a year now.

And today, it was announced that Son of God producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have come on board the project too.

Is there a way to get any of the Exodus: Gods and Kings people involved, I wonder?

Even better, the film now has a release date — February 26, 2016 — according to both Deadline (which calls Burnett and Downey “Jesus Whisperers”, indicating perhaps that they have been brought on board not so much for their creative input as for their ability to sell films like this to the “faith-based” audience) and Variety.

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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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Is seeing a Bible movie on opening weekend more important than going to church? Is it a way of “honouring God”?

How eager were certain people to make Son of God a box-office hit? Pretty eager, I’d say.

Rick Warren declared, in a video touting one of the “theatre takeovers” that took place Thursday night, that Christians should “skip church and go see” the film on opening weekend, because “it’s that important.”

And on Saturday, Paul Lauer at Motive Entertainment, a Christian marketing firm, sent out an e-mail telling people: [Read more...]


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