Mel Gibson’s conscientious-objector movie gets an awards season release date, while The Shack moves to Lent

Mel Gibson’s conscientious-objector movie gets an awards season release date, while The Shack moves to Lent May 5, 2016

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Looks like there will be one less Jesus movie this year.

The Shack — based on William Paul Young’s best-selling novel about a grieving father who meets all three persons of the Trinity — was originally going to come out in August, and then it got bumped to the Friday before the American Thanksgiving. But now, Deadline reports that the film has been reassigned to March 3, which is the first Friday in Lent according to both the western and eastern traditions next year.

In November, the film would have opened against the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Now, it will open against the third Wolverine.

No reasons were given for the change in release date, though two come to mind.

First, the studio behind the film, Lionsgate, has just announced that it will release Mel Gibson’s war movie Hacksaw Ridge on November 4 to give it a shot at winning some end-of-the-year awards — and Deadline reports that Hacksaw Ridge, which concerns a Seventh-Day Adventist who became the first conscientious objector to win the Congressional Medal of Honor, has “faith-based nuances” of its own.

So presumably the studio didn’t want two of its own movies — both of which have “faith-based” elements — competing for the same audience at the same time.

Second, it has become quite common in the last few years to release “faith-based” films during Lent. From mid-February to mid-April this year, there was at least one “faith-based” film in the weekly top ten every week, and sometimes two.

So presumably Lionsgate thinks that would be an ideal time for The Shack, too.

The Shack is set in the present day and does not, as far as I know, depict any scenes from the Bible — but it does include Jesus as one of its key characters.

It would have been the last of several Jesus movies released this year — following Risen, The Young Messiah, Last Days in the Desert, Ben-Hur and even Hail, Caesar! — but now, barring any further changes, it will have to be the first of next year.

— The photo above shows Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss in Hacksaw Ridge.

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