After the strong staying power of this weekend’s God’s Not Dead and the stronger than expected opening of Paramount Pictures’ Noah following on the heels of the surprise opening of Fox’s Son of God earlier this year, is there any doubt anymore Hollywood that if you build it, they will come? That’s three for three … but wait, actually there’s more. Back in 2008, the Kirk Cameron-starring Fireproof from filmmaker and associate pastor of the Sherwood Church, Alex Kendrick, took a lot of people by surprise. On a $500,000 budget raised by the church, the faith-based picture ended up grossing $33.4M when it was released by Samuel Goldwyn. They did it again in 2011, when on a $2M budget, TriStar released Courageous that opened to $9.1M and went onto make $34.5M. Before that, in 2004, the Mel Gibson-directed The Passion of the Christ opened to $83.8M domestically and went on to gross $611M worldwide.
I commissioned veteran investigative journalist Allison Hope Weiner to write an opinion piece on how she evolved from critical reporting of Mel Gibson’s verbal indiscretions and into a friend who made a case for him being given another chance in Hollywood on the 10th anniversary of The Passion of The Christ. She dropped her objectivity for the first time in her career, and delivered a provocative opinion piece that garnered 870 comments, all over the map. After, some reports alleged she should have disclosed that Gibson’s Icon was a seed investor in Thelip.tv, an Internet company where she hosts two shows, and where Gibson’s son, Will, is a former employee. Deadline has evaluated the situation. I stand behind her piece completely, but we decided our readers deserve transparency. Had I known about this tie, I would have asked Allison to weave it into her piece. But I didn’t know, and so I have invited Allison to explain.
A Journalist’s Plea On 10th Anniversary Of ‘The Passion Of The Christ’: Hollywood, Take Mel Gibson Off Your Blacklist
How ironic is it that Hollywood studios walk on eggshells with faith-based groups hoping their religious epics like Noah do a fraction of the business Mel Gibson did with The Passion Of The Christ, while those studios continue to shun Gibson like a leper? What better way to commemorate Passion‘s 10th anniversary than journalist Allison Hope Weiner‘s examination of her relationship with Gibson and how it evolved from harsh coverage to the point where she feels strongly enough about his good qualities and recovery to urge Hollywood to consider giving him another chance. Weiner has written about Gibson for Deadline before, as well as The New York Times and other national magazines. – MF
It has been a decade since Mel Gibson made The Passion Of The Christ and watched it become the biggest-grossing independent film with $612 million in worldwide ticket sales. In the years that followed, Gibson made several comments that went public, made him seem anti-Semitic and racist. They made him persona non grata at major studios and agencies, the same ones that work with others who’ve committed felonies and done things far more serious than Gibson, who essentially used his tongue as a lethal weapon. As a journalist who vilified Gibson in The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly until my coverage allowed me to get to know him, I want to make the case here that it is time for those Hollywood agencies and studios to end their quiet blacklisting of Mel Gibson. Once Hollywood’s biggest movie star whose film Braveheart won five Oscars and whose collective box office totals $3.6 billion, Gibson hasn’t been directly employed by a studio since Passion Of The Christ was released in 2004.
The Gibson I’ve come to know isn’t a man who’ll shout from the rooftops that he’s not anti-Semitic, or hold a press conference to tell media those audiotapes were released as part of a shakedown, and that he never assaulted the mother of his infant daughter. He won’t explain to people that he first got himself into a career spiral because he’s a long struggling alcoholic who fell off the wagon and spewed hateful anti-Semitic remarks to an arresting officer who was Jewish. He won’t tell you that he’s still got a lot to offer Hollywood as a filmmaker.
The fact that he won’t jump to his own defense is part of his problem, but also part of why I have grown to respect him. That is why on the occasion of this 10th anniversary of Passion, a film about an innocent man’s willingness to forgive the greatest injustice, I propose to Hollywood that it’s time to forgive Mel Gibson. He has been in the doghouse long enough. It’s time to give the guy another chance.
Easter Sunday seems an appropriate time to focus on Hollywood’s treatment of the subject matter of religion. When it comes to making movies from various Biblical interpretations, conventional wisdom says stick close to scripture and the faithful will flock. Mel Gibson hewed closely to the New Testament with 2004′s The Passion of the Christ and the film grossed over $600 million worldwide to become the largest independent film of its day and the top-grossing non-English language film ever. But veering from that strategy can do more than alienate that audience segment as Universal Pictures found out when Martin Scorsese filmed 1988′s controversial and in some eyes blasphemous The Last Temptation of Christ from Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel and angry protesters were dragging crosses in front of the home of MCA Universal head Lew Wasserman. Have things changed since then?
Several filmmakers hope so because they are making movies that challenge faith tradions. These projects are very different from, say, big projects that include Fox’s stylized retelling of Moses leading the Israelite exodus out of Egypt, or Bedrock Films’ $30 million 3D reimagining of the story of creation as depicted in the Book of Genesis. But all of the following daring projects can take encouragement from The Book Of Mormon, the first Broadway musical by South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker who teamed with Robert Lopez on the skewed look at the Mormon faithful. The result is a smash hit Tony Awards contender playing …
‘IRON MAN’ IS SUMMER’S ROCKETMAN: Soars To $201 Mil Worldwide Weekend; “It Beat Will Smith And Jesus!”
SUNDAY AM: Here are the official blockbuster numbers — Paramount Pictures release of Marvel Studios’ Iron Man, in 4,105 theaters, made an estimated $35,125,000 on Friday 5/2, an estimated $37,500,000 on Saturday 5/3, for an estimated 3-day weekend box office of $100,750,000. Advance screenings in select locations, about 2,500 venues, from 8:00 PM to midnight on Thursday 5/1 contributed an additional $3,500,000. With this addition, the total estimated box office is $104,250,000. The estimated international box office for the weekend is $96,750,000 from 57 territories. The total combined estimated global box office for Marvel Studios’ Iron Man is $201,000,000.
“It beat Will Smith and Jesus!” gushed a Paramount insider referring to the openings of I Am Legend and The Passion Of The Christ. “It’s just mind blowing. Internally, some people were going into high 80sM and low 90sM but people were laughing at them. We had our own box office poll and maybe one person thought $100M.” The monster numbers now make Iron Man the second biggest 3-day release for a non-sequel in the history of Hollywood, behind only Sony’s first Spider-Man. It’s also the No. 10 movie opening weekend and the No. 4 superhero movie weekend of all time. The $140 million production self-financed by Marvel was also distributor Paramount’s biggest live action opening of all time. I understand that, at first, Paramount thought Thursday’s advance screenings generated $5 million, but then discovered that $1.7 …