Exodus: Gods and Kings, which reportedly cost $140 million to make, is estimated to have earned about $24.5 million this weekend — which is slightly less than the $25.6 million that Son of God, a repackaged TV show, opened to in February. It is also just a little more than half the $43.7 million that Noah, which cost $125 million to make, opened to in March. And Exodus owes 44% of its box-office take to higher-priced 3D screenings, whereas Noah and Son of God were released in 2D only on this continent.
Early on in Exodus: Gods and Kings, there’s a scene in which Moses, who is still an Egyptian prince oblivious to his Hebrew heritage, confronts an Egyptian viceroy named Hegep, who is supposed to be building a new city for the Pharaoh but seems to have diverted some of the funds towards his own luxurious lifestyle. Hegep tries to deflect Moses’ attention by pointing to the troublesome Hebrew slaves, and says he needs more resources to deal with them. As proof of how rebellious these Hebrews are, Hegep says, “Do you know what ‘Israelite’ means in their own language? ‘He who fights with God’.” An annoyed Moses replies, “‘He who wrestles with God’. There’s a difference.”
That would be slightly ahead of the $25.6 million that Son of God opened to in February, but considerably behind the $43.7 million that Noah opened to in March — but movies that open in December tend to stay afloat over the holidays, so Exodus could still be the year’s biggest Bible movie when all is said and done. (The Prince of Egypt, to cite one precedent, opened in December 1998 to only $14.5 million and still grossed $101.4 million in total — which is slightly more than Noah made in North America.)
Moses at the Movies / When we trace more than a century of movies about the Exodus, what do we learn?
Ridley Scott isn’t the first filmmaker to tackle the story of Moses, and he certainly won’t be the last. There’s drama in the prophet’s confrontations with the rulers of Egypt, there’s spectacle in the miracles he performed to liberate his people, and there are lessons to be learned from the way he led the Israelites and forged them into a nation, not least by giving them the Law. And filmmakers have been turning to Moses’ story for inspiration since pretty much the dawn of cinema.
It doesn’t open in North America for another five days, but Exodus: Gods and Kings has been playing overseas for a few days now, and so far it seems to be off to a fairly healthy start for a Ridley Scott film — but it may not be doing as well as the other big Bible movie of the year, i.e. Darren Aronofsky’s Noah.
My computer has been out of commission for the past few days, so I haven’t been able to keep up with the Exodus: Gods and Kings video clips as closely as I’d like, much less capture any of the new images, but I figured I might as well round up what’s out there. The new batch includes a clip from the film, three TV spots and a collection of soundbites from the film’s world premiere last Wednesday.