Brazil’s biggest home-grown box-office hit could be a Bible epic about Moses, re-edited from a local TV series

Brazil’s biggest home-grown box-office hit could be a Bible epic about Moses, re-edited from a local TV series January 30, 2016

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Two years ago, five episodes from The Bible miniseries were re-edited into a theatrical film called Son of God. It was, as far as I can tell, the first time a North American TV series had been re-released on the big screen since the rise of home video, and the film did decent business at the box office — about on par with a successful indie film.

That was nothing compared to what’s happening right now in Brazil.

The Guardian reports that Os Dez Mandamentos — a.k.a. The Ten Commandments, a telenovela that I have written about before — has been re-edited into a feature film that sold millions of tickets in pre-sales before opening on Thursday.

The original telenovela consisted of 176 episodes, and the film sold five times as many pre-sales tickets in Brazil as Star Wars: The Force Awakens did last year.

What’s more, The Times of Israel says the film is expected to become the biggest home-grown box-office hit in Brazil’s history, beating the $63 million or so that Elite Troop 2 (a.k.a. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within) earned there in 2010.

For comparison’s sake, the last major Hollywood movie about Moses — Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings — earned just $14.8 million in Brazil one year ago.

The Guardian credits the new film’s success — and that of the TV series that preceded it — to the country’s burgeoning evangelical and charismatic movements.

But the paper also notes that some evangelical “sects” were unsure whether to support the series, given that the network which produced it is owned by a billionaire who co-founded a politically powerful, prosperity-gospel teaching church.

At any rate, stories with a biblical theme are certainly pretty big in Brazil.

Two years ago, Noah became the top-grossing Paramount movie ever in Brazil. (The film earned $30.6 million — more than any of the Star Wars movies.)

Around that time, Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles announced he was producing an animated version of Noah’s Ark based on the songs of a local poet.

It is also perhaps no coincidence that two upcoming Hollywood films have cast Brazilian actors Rodrigo Santoro and Alice Braga as, respectively, Jesus (in Ben-Hur) and Sophia, the personification of God’s wisdom (in The Shack).

Anyhoo. I have no idea if the theatrical version of Os Dez Mandamentos will ever be released with English subtitles, but if it is, I’ll certainly try to check it out.

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