Box office: Risen is the week’s top new film, and Deadpool takes aim at The Passion of the Christ’s R-rated record
All this talk of Gnosticism in the movies is reminding me, last Monday marked the 15th anniversary of The Matrix.
It would be impossible to overstate what a huge deal that movie was at the time. It was not the first Gnostic parable to grace the big screen by any stretch — several films that touched on similar themes had come out just the previous year — and the whole thing fizzled out when the filmmakers cranked out two bloated, underwhelming sequels just four years later. But for a while there, the movie had everyone talking about Christ-figures and philosophy and the nature of reality, etc.
Mel Gibson’s graphic and controversial The Passion of the Christ surprised everyone — including its own distributor — when it opened last Wednesday. Newmarket, the company that released the film in the United States, predicted that afternoon that the film would gross about $20 million; instead, it made $23.6 million for the day, or $26.6 million once the church previews on Monday and Tuesday are taken into account.
And on Sunday, Newmarket predicted a weekend gross of $76.2 million; like all distributors, they estimated the film’s Sunday take based on the totals for Friday and Saturday. But Gibson’s death-of-Jesus film apparently attracted a much higher percentage of its followers on the Sabbath than most movies do — bringing its weekend gross to $83.8 million.
When The Matrix first came out four and a half years ago, many Christians were intrigued and excited by the film’s many biblical allusions. The protagonist was a hacker named Neo (Keanu Reeves) who discovered that the entire human race was trapped within a virtual reality, and all people were living in a computer-generated dream state to hide the fact that the world had been conquered by machines that were using human beings as a power source.