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Get ready for a wave of religious films

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Get ready for a wave of religious films

Old 03-15-04, 10:07 AM
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Get ready for a wave of religious films

I wonder how good these are going to be? I saw part of Judas that is mentioned in the article and it wasn't any good.



http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/15/mo...rint&position=

Hollywood Rethinking Films of Faith After 'Passion'
By SHARON WAXMAN

OS ANGELES, March 14 As the overwhelming success of "The Passion of the Christ" reverberates through Hollywood, producers and studio executives are asking whether the movie industry has been neglecting large segments of the American audience eager for more openly religious fare.

During the weekend the film took in another $31.6 million, increasing the total box office to $264 million in nearly three weeks, according to Exhibitor Relations, which tracks ticket sales.

Unlike many blockbusters, the movie has not dropped precipitously soon after a huge opening weekend. It is expected to finish its domestic run taking in well over $300 million in box-office receipts, easily outstripping big-budget movies like "The Hulk" or any in the "Matrix" series.

That number will only swell when the film is released internationally, beginning in Europe and Latin America in the next few weeks. The foreign audience is expected to be huge. And 20th Century Fox is in negotiations to distribute the DVD and videocassette, which is also expected to be immensely profitable.

"You can't ignore those numbers," said Mark Johnson, a veteran film producer. "You can't say it's just a fluke. There's something to be read here."

The movie's box-office success has been chewed over in studio staff meetings and at pricey watering holes all over Hollywood, echoed in interviews with numerous executives in the last week. In marketing departments the film is regarded as pure genius; its director, Mel Gibson, is credited with stoking a controversy that yanked the film from the margins of the culture to center stage, presenting it as a must-see.

There is little doubt at the studios that the movie will affect decision making in the short and the long term. Some predict, as one result, a wave of New Testament-themed movies or more religious films in general.

"Will there really be scriptural pictures Old Testament, New Testament?" asked Peter Guber, a producer who formerly ran Sony Pictures Entertainment. "The answer seemingly is probably so."

The turn-on-a-dime television world has already responded. Last week ABC broadcast the long-shelved movie "Judas," about the disciple who betrayed Jesus. It lost in the ratings to "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "C.S.I.: Miami."

And as publicity about "The Passion" grew in the weeks before its release, NBC ordered a pilot of an apocalyptic show called "Revelations," partly based on the Book of Revelation. One of its producers, Gavin Polone, described it as being along the lines of "The X-Files," but about a nun and a skeptical scientist who begin to believe in the Bible as the events of Armageddon begin to happen. In his pitch to the networks, he said, he cited polls in which 78 percent of Americans said they believed that the events of Revelation would occur and 39 percent said they believed that those events would happen in their lifetime.

" 'The Passion' has helped," Mr. Polone said.

He said that Hollywood executives were overlooking broad segments of moviegoers who are unlike themselves upper-middle class, college educated even though Hollywood's stock in trade is mass-market entertainment.

Mr. Guber said that reaction to that movie's success was butting up against the feelings of many in Hollywood who dislike its widely criticized portrayal of Jewish responsibility in the death of Jesus.

"There's both discomfort, amazement and anger sometimes all at once," he said. "Greed and envy and anger and jealousy are all interesting bedfellows. They make for interesting conjugal visits in this town."

Many movie executives said they were uncertain about whether to try to imitate "The Passion."

"I wouldn't know how to duplicate this," said Jeff Robinov, the president of production at Warner Brothers.

But Mr. Robinov, who said he liked the film, said he was not sure that he needed to reach a religion-oriented audience. The success of "The Passion," he said, "doesn't encourage me to find a movie to satisfy that group."

"But," he added, "if a guy like Mel Gibson came in with a film that had a sociological, theological message a religious message that was controversial, I wouldn't run from it."

In the first days after its release on Feb. 25 (Ash Wednesday) "The Passion" drew large numbers from religious groups whose members had bought blocks of tickets. Since then exit polls conducted by the movie's distributor, Newmarket Films, have found that young moviegoers have made up much of the audience.

"The R rating is limiting younger kids, but it is getting teens and college kids," Newmarket's president, Bob Berney, told Variety last week. The film has been promoted on horror-fan Web sites, and young men seem to be drawn by reports that the movie is gory.

The movie is also doing well among the traditionally religious Latino and African-American audiences, Mr. Berney said. Newmarket declined to give specific numbers.

Last week a Gallup poll found that 11 percent of Americans had seen the movie and that 34 percent more said they planned to see it in theaters. The poll, based on a statistically representative sample of 1,005 adults nationwide, found that older people were less likely to see the movie and that people who attended church at least once a month were more likely to see it than those who did not.

Many Hollywood executives argue that the success of "The Passion" cannot be easily replicated by simply making more Bible stories. The movie is not just a portrayal of the Crucifixion, they say, but a political religious statement driven by the intensity of Mr. Gibson's conservativeCatholicism. It has been hyped into a phenomenon by protests from Jewish groups about the film's depiction of Jews, they say, and by Mr. Gibson's reluctance to discuss the film with his critics.

"You can't deny when a movie makes that kind of money that the audience has spoken to the filmmaking community, but it's a frightening comment," said Michael Nozik, a producer of the forthcoming "Motorcycle Diaries," about Che Guevara, the Cuban revolutionary leader. Mr. Nozik is alarmed by the violence in "The Passion," he said, and dismayed by the "pot of anger" that has been stirred by accusations of anti-Semitism.

"I would not think of making a religious movie that speaks to this aspect of the audience," Mr. Nozik said. "I don't know how you speak to that audience as a filmmaker. But as a businessman you have to go, `God, there's something there.' "

As divisions of major media conglomerates concerned with their public image, Hollywood studios have historically shied away from all but the most benign values, like friendship, family and love. Movies with strong points of view political and particularly religious have had difficulty receiving green lights.

"It's not clear that Hollywood has the appetite or the attitude" to make religious movies, Mr. Guber said. Mr. Gibson's movie, he said, "in my judgment, has a politically religious point of view."

"The question is: Is that a necessity for films of faith?"

One indication of how Hollywood might find a middle road is in the recent announcement by the Walt Disney Company of its plan to make a big-budget movie of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," the beloved children's book by C. S. Lewis, an influential Christian writer. The rights to make a movie of the book are owned by a production company owned by the media mogul Philip Anschutz, a practicing Christian.

Mark Johnson, one of its producers, said the film would not be a Christian project per se. "We are intent on not making this into a Christian movie," he said. "But it will be seen by many loyal readers as a very Christian movie."
Old 03-15-04, 10:31 AM
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Many Hollywood executives argue that the success of "The Passion" cannot be easily replicated by simply making more Bible stories.
That won't stop them. Remakes of Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments will almost certainly be done.
Old 03-15-04, 11:22 AM
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I wish this would lead to the "Left Behind" series being done right.....
Old 03-15-04, 11:45 AM
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I think it is a great idea, if done in good taste and faithful to the Bible.

It doesn't necessarily have to have religous undertones either. I think that is something that is unique to the Passion and cannot be duplicated. Mel Gibson had his own passion for that movie and that is why it is what it is. If Hollywood tries to duplicate this I think it is in bad taste.

However, if they just tell different stories then that would be cool. How about a story about Noah or Moses that is actually truthful to the Bible.
Old 03-15-04, 11:49 AM
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I hope God sues for not being credited (or paid!) as a writer...

Seriously tough - all this really means is that we can expect a long series of REALLY BAD Biblical epics. One of the reasons TPOTC did so well was not only because it was religous, but because it was something original for the movies - something like we haven't seen in a long, long time. If Hollywood is looking for their next $300 million movie, they should go out and buy some original scripts from writers - not try and copy what has already been successful.
Old 03-15-04, 11:55 AM
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Originally posted by Shannon Nutt
I hope God sues for not being credited (or paid!) as a writer...
God should have been more dilligent about paying his union dues.
Old 03-15-04, 12:52 PM
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Originally posted by Shannon Nutt
I hope God sues for not being credited (or paid!) as a writer...

Seriously tough - all this really means is that we can expect a long series of REALLY BAD Biblical epics. One of the reasons TPOTC did so well was not only because it was religous, but because it was something original for the movies - something like we haven't seen in a long, long time. If Hollywood is looking for their next $300 million movie, they should go out and buy some original scripts from writers - not try and copy what has already been successful.
Plus it was done by a person of faith, not for $. These other projects will be soley for the $, and there won't be any connection between them and the Passion's audience.

King David and The Last Temptation are two examples. You can also through in Prince of Egypt, which was so whitewashed it would make the Jazz Singer blush.
Old 03-15-04, 01:00 PM
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The Last Temptation of Christ was most certainly made by a person of faith, and not merely a way of making $$$.

I thought Prince of Egypt had a lot of potential, but the decision to add the songs was a miserable one. The film would have worked much better without them.

I don't know anything about King David, so I can't comment.
Old 03-15-04, 01:23 PM
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Originally posted by Groucho
The Last Temptation of Christ was most certainly made by a person of faith, and not merely a way of making $$$.
I agree that Scorsese is a person of faith, but don't you think that the difference between TLTOC and TPOTC is that the latter was also made for reasons of faith. Scorsese made TLTOC because he liked the ideas that the book presented, not because he held them as personal beliefs.
Old 03-15-04, 01:30 PM
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The Bible is full of great stories, but the studios are full of idiots.

Even in it's "golden age" Hollywood made a lot of corny, forgettable Biblical films. This will be interesting...
Old 03-15-04, 02:22 PM
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I'd much rather see some films from the Church of the SubGenius.

Or at least an adaptation of Robert A. Wilson's "Reality Is What You Can Get Away With", directed by Spike Jonze or Terry Gilliam.
Old 03-15-04, 02:26 PM
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I fear we'll definitely see now a mega-production of that miserable "Left Behind" series....
Old 03-15-04, 05:41 PM
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One of the things about 'Passion' is that it's bringing out a lot of people that DON'T go to the movies very often, because they don't think there's anything there for them (seeing religious material as only worthwhile material).
My fear is that a wave of movies targeted at the 'Passion' demographic will bypass traditional moviegoers and alienate those of us that don't really care about the Bible or agree with its radical and reactionary interpretations (which is what 'Passion' seems to be... an Opus Dei wet dream).
Nothing should be off limits. Everything should be permitted.
Old 03-15-04, 06:23 PM
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Originally posted by Neeb
My fear is that a wave of movies targeted at the 'Passion' demographic will bypass traditional moviegoers and alienate those of us that don't really care about the Bible or agree with its radical and reactionary interpretations (which is what 'Passion' seems to be... an Opus Dei wet dream).
Nothing should be off limits. Everything should be permitted.
Your absolutely right . . . these religious people have been catered to for far to long. It's about time the regular people have some movies made for them . . .


Old 03-15-04, 07:46 PM
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I just hope that we don't get the cheesy type movies that we had before. The only bible movies that I really liked were passion and the last temptation of christ. Everything else is just something to play on christmas and easter to fill up the airwaves.
Old 03-15-04, 07:49 PM
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Originally posted by Neeb

My fear is that a wave of movies targeted at the 'Passion' demographic will bypass traditional moviegoers and alienate those of us that don't really care about the Bible or agree with its radical and reactionary interpretations (which is what 'Passion' seems to be... an Opus Dei wet dream).
Nothing should be off limits. Everything should be permitted.
Heaven forbid anybody makes a movie that is targeted for an audience other than yourself.

What kind of narcissic comment is that? Romance movies I KNOW aren't targeted towards me, but I don't have a fear of them being released.

Did you mix up what you were trying to convey?
Old 03-15-04, 07:51 PM
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Originally posted by Playitagainsam
I fear we'll definitely see now a mega-production of that miserable "Left Behind" series....
I hope if this causes a surge of religious movies the "Left Behind" Series would actually get done right instead of the Cloud Ten pictures.
Old 03-15-04, 07:51 PM
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Originally posted by al_bundy
I just hope that we don't get the cheesy type movies that we had before. The only bible movies that I really liked were passion and the last temptation of christ. Everything else is just something to play on christmas and easter to fill up the airwaves.
There are tons of good stories that could be done. David being the best. Others would be Samson, King Saul, Soloman, Daniel, and for the hopeless depresed out there they could always do a Jeramiah or Job movie.

NT has tons too, albeit St. Paul or Peter would be the best of the bunch.
Old 03-15-04, 07:52 PM
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Originally posted by xfilekr
I hope if this causes a surge of religious movies the "Left Behind" Series would actually get done right instead of the Cloud Ten pictures.
You're problem there is that like the Passion, 99% of Christians believe that happend. The Left Behind books, only about 25% believe that will happen. Revelation is a very divided book.
Old 03-15-04, 08:05 PM
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"Religious" or "Christian?"

There's more than one religion out there...

It's about time the Buddhists got there due.

And the Pagans need more movies than "The Craft" and "The Wicker Man."
Old 03-15-04, 09:48 PM
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I'm personally hoping for a movie about Mohammed that is based on true Muslim beliefs. Not the crap that palestinians and some other wackos pass off as Islam.
Old 03-15-04, 10:14 PM
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you've got a friend in jesus...
And you'll have bigger box office, too!
So sayeth the passion of the matrix.
Old 03-15-04, 10:19 PM
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Originally posted by Josh-da-man
"Religious" or "Christian?"

There's more than one religion out there...

It's about time the Buddhists got there due.
Well, there were a few Buddhist films in the '90s:

Little Buddha - (I didn't care much for the modern part of the story, but it's good in the actual Buddha scenes... despite having Keanu in them.)

Seven Years In Tibet - (reasonably good, with some stunning mountain sequences in the first half)

Kundun - (absolutely beautiful visually, although I thought it was too detached overall)

And the Pagans need more movies than "The Craft" and "The Wicker Man."
There is Troy coming out soon, although I don't know how much (if any) of the Greek gods it will have in it.
Old 03-15-04, 10:23 PM
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Originally posted by Sunday Morning

So sayeth the passion of the matrix.
WHOA!
Old 03-15-04, 11:50 PM
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Even though the controversy caught my attention I decided it was best not to encourage them because I had this exact scenario running though my head.

Not that I have anything against religious movies being made, I just didn't want them using my dollars as evidence since I normally would not be the least bit interested in anything religious.

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