The Ascension of Christ in film: literalism, symbolism, etc.

Today is the Feast of the Ascension, when Christians remember how Jesus was taken up into heaven 40 days after his Resurrection. It’s one of the stranger bits in the Gospels — both difficult to understand, given our modern cosmology, and difficult to pull off visually — and most of what we know about it actually comes from the Book of Acts. So it’s not too surprising that most films about Jesus have tended to skip this episode.

Nevertheless, a few films have depicted the Ascension, often by mixing it with elements from other stories in the gospels; and even those that don’t depict it have often made a point of ending on a note that suggests Jesus has transcended this life in some way that parallels the Ascension. Here are a few examples.

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Box-office update: Is the “faith-based” streak almost over?

Ever since Son of God opened in theatres on February 28, there has been at least one “faith-based” movie in the North American top ten every week — and sometimes there have been two. But that streak could end after this week.

Heaven Is for Real, which is now in its sixth week, landed in the #10 spot this weekend with an estimated $1.95 million, thereby raising its domestic total to $85.8 million. The film has earned another $2.5 million overseas, for a worldwide total of $88.2 million.

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Box office update: Noah passes The Passion overseas

It’s official: Noah is now the top-grossing Bible movie ever overseas, in unadjusted dollars.

As of this weekend, the film has grossed $243 million overseas, which is more than the $241.1 million that The Passion of the Christ grossed overseas ten years ago.

The film also grossed an estimated $210,000 in North America this weekend, raising its domestic total to $100.3 million. This is well, well behind the $370.8 million that The Passion grossed in North America, and slightly behind the $101.4 million that The Prince of Egypt grossed in North America in 1998 and 1999.

Noah is currently playing in over 40 territories and has earned $343.3 million worldwide so far. It opens in Japan next month.

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Box-office update: Spider-Man franchise posts arguably its lowest opening yet, God’s Not Dead is back in the top ten, Noah hits a new milestone or two, and more

Nothing too exciting to report at the box office this weekend.

As expected, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had a big opening in North America this week, with an estimated $92 million — but that actually represents the smallest first weekend of any Spider-Man film that opened on a Friday, and the lowest end-of-first-Sunday gross of any film in this series. This, despite the addition of 3D surcharges and the like. (In both cases, the previous low was the $114.8 million that the original Spider-Man opened to in 2002 — which, at the time, was the biggest opening of any film ever.)

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Box-office update: Noah slips out of the top ten; Heaven Is for Real and God’s Not Dead have decent holds

For the first time since it came out four weeks ago, Noah fell out of the top ten — and behind God’s Not Dead — at the North American box office this weekend.

Both God’s Not Dead and Noah are currently playing in about 1,600 theatres. But where God’s Not Dead took in an estimated $2.8 million and landed in the #11 spot, Noah took in $2.3 million and landed at #14.

Noah also took in another $11.1 million overseas, benefiting from strong holds in France, Italy, the UK, Germany, Spain, Turkey and especially Brazil.

Noah has grossed $97.3 million in North America and another $222.7 million overseas, for a global total of $320 million. God’s Not Dead, for its part, has grossed $52.7 million in North America and has presumably made more money overseas, where it has been playing for a few weeks now, but no foreign figures are available at Box Office Mojo yet.

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Son of God — coming to Blu-Ray on June 3

Now that Easter has come and gone, it’s time for Son of God to look beyond its theatrical release — and sure enough, yesterday came word that the Blu-Ray and DVD release is set for June 3. According to High-Def Digest, the bonus features will include: “Son of God: Reborn; Making of Video (includes Spanish version); Son of God Set; and Compassion Video.” Curiously, this movie, which consists of about four episodes’ worth of the ten-episode mini-series The Bible, is currently selling at Amazon for $35.99 (a slight reduction from the official retail price of $39.99), whereas The Bible itself is selling in its entirety for $29.99 (less than half the official retail price of $69.99).