Box office: Hidden Figures holds on to the top spot while six new films fail to find an audience

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A drama about three African-American women who broke racial barriers in the early 1960s held on to the top spot at the box office on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, while half a dozen new wide releases failed to find an audience.

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Watch: New clips and a featurette for Scorsese’s Silence

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Nearly three decades in the making, Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Silence is finally playing in a few American theatres, and it will expand to the rest of the continent over the next two weeks. To pique the interest of prospective moviegoers, Paramount has released a new featurette on Scorsese’s “passion” for the project, as well as a few clips.

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Watch: The trailer for Martin Scorsese’s Silence, about the persecution of Catholic converts in 17th-century Japan

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One of the last movies to enter this year’s awards race is a film that has been brewing for decades. Martin Scorsese first read Shūsaku Endō’s 1966 novel Silence, which concerns the persecution of Catholic converts in 17th-century Japan, nearly 30 years ago, and he has wanted to make a movie version of it ever since. Now, at last, his adaptation is complete, and it looks like it could be a powerful film indeed.

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The prophet Isaiah at the movies: a quick round-up

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Today is the feast day for the prophet Isaiah in the Orthodox Church, so I figured it might be good to round up a few films that have referenced and depicted him.

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National Geographic unveils the cast for Killing Jesus

killingjesusThe National Geographic Channel’s adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus is now filming in Morocco, and thanks to The Hollywood Reporter, we now know who many of the actors are — and they’re an eclectic bunch, to be sure.

In keeping with other recent efforts to depict Jesus as something other than a blonde-haired, blue-eyed European, the part of Jesus will be played by Haaz Sleiman, an actor born in Lebanon who is perhaps best-known for playing a Syrian immigrant in Tom McCarthy’s The Visitor.

Herod the Great, on the other hand, will be played by Kelsey Grammer, who doesn’t seem like a particularly Middle Eastern kind of guy to me. (The fact that he’s best known for his comedic roles on Frasier and The Simpsons doesn’t help!)

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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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