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...]

Paramount comes out swinging against Variety’s Noah story

Well this is unusual. Paramount, the studio producing Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, has just issued a press release responding to yesterday’s story in Variety which claimed that an online survey had found that the film was not appealing to religious audiences.

The studio notes, rightly, that Variety overinterpreted the survey results in its headline, and that the survey question itself is so vaguely worded that it never actually refers to Noah (though the webpage hosting the survey does make the connection explicit).

The studio then goes on to cite studies by secular and Christian research groups which indicate that over 80% of the self-defined Christian or “very religious” people who are aware of the film are interested in the film or would recommend it to their friends.

[Read more...]

Church groups “taking over” theatres for Son of God

Son of God, the big-screen life-of-Jesus movie spun off from last year’s mini-series The Bible, officially comes out two weeks from today — but some churches are giving their parishioners a chance to see the film slightly earlier than that.

The Hollywood Reporter says churches and other organizations around the U.S. are buying out entire theatres — not just individual screens, but entire multiplexes — for screenings of Son of God on Thursday February 27, the night before the official release date. Just to give the whole thing a feeling of conquest, they’re even calling these bookings “Theatre Take-Overs”.

[Read more...]

Flashback: Ten years of The Passion of the Christ

This month marks the tenth anniversary of The Passion of the Christ. The film’s actual release date was February 25, but by the time it came out, people had been debating it — and seeing it at special preview screenings — for several months. (I myself first saw a rough cut of the film in January of that year.) So I figured now was as good a time as any to re-post all the various reviews, news stories and op-ed pieces that I’ve written about the film, most of which fall between the summer of 2003, when the controversy was already in full swing, and early 2007, when a “definitive” two-disc edition of the film was released on DVD.

I haven’t watched the film all the way through in several years — probably not since the “definitive” edition came out — but it has been fascinating to re-read all these articles and to chart the evolution in my thoughts about the film. In the early days, I was very concerned about the film’s historical inaccuracies and its obsession with violence. But then I was asked to write an essay on the film for a book, and as I thought about the film and wrote about it, I found my appreciation for the film growing — so much so that, by the time I reviewed the two-disc DVD, I was calling it a “flawed but breathtaking masterpiece.”

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Bible epics — the article’s up!

My latest article on the Bible-epic revival is now up at The Anglican Planet. The main impetus for the article is, of course, the three films coming out next year — Son of God, Noah and Exodus — though I also mention the planned remake of Ben-Hur. Among other things, I speculate as to possible reasons for the genre’s current revival (a delayed response to The Passion of the Christ? a surge of interest in ancient history and mythology?), and I offer a few tips on how Christian moviegoers should respond to it. Enjoy.

Bible epics are back on the silver screen

BIBLE EPICS are back, and coming soon to a theatre near you.

The genre – which was very popular in the silent era and then, again, during the post-war boom of the 1950s and early 1960s – never went away entirely. Low-budget films like The Last Temptation of Christ and The Passion of the Christ have offered radically different, even opposite, interpretations of the life and death of Jesus. And there has been a steady stream of Bible films on television going back to at least the 1970s.

But when Paramount Pictures releases Noah – starring Russell Crowe and rumoured to have cost over $125 million – in March, it will mark the first time that a big-budget live-action Bible epic has been made for the big screen since Richard Gere starred in King David back in 1985. (The Prince of Egypt, released in 1998, was also a major Hollywood production, but it was an animated film, and so arguably doesn’t quite belong in the same category.)

[Read more...]


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