June 7, 2009
Newsbites: The religious history edition!
1. Benedict Fitzgerald's lawsuit against Mel Gibson and several film companies has come to an end, now that the two sides have reached a settlement, the details of which have not been disclosed. Fitzgerald had sued Gibson for allegedly underpaying him for his work on the screenplay for The Passion of the Christ (2004). -- Associated Press
2. Josh Brolin is thinking of producing a movie about John Brown, an abolitionist who killed several Southern slave-owners and tried to start a slave rebellion in the years leading up to the American Civil War; he was regarded by Abraham Lincoln and others as a "misguided fanatic" and he remains a controversial figure to this day. -- ComingSoon.net
3. Alejandro AmenÃ¡bar's Agora premiered at Cannes a few weeks ago, and various critics, rounded up by The Daily's David Hudson, have discussed how the film casts certain fourth-century Christians, including St. Cyril of Alexandria, in a very negative light. The filmmakers themselves have talked about how their film portrays the philosopher Hypatia (played by Rachel Weisz, pictured above) as a martyr for science, but at least one observer has said that this is a distortion of the historical record. -- The Daily, Associated Press, Tim O'Neill
4. Another film that premiered at Cannes last month was Tsar, which concerns a Becket-like clash of wills between Ivan the Terrible and St. Philip of Moscow in the mid-16th century. The Daily has rounded up reviews of that film, too -- and it notes that Oleg Yankovsky, the actor who played St. Philip, died of cancer only a few days after the film's premiere; he was 65. The film is directed by Pavel Lungin, who previously directed Ostrov (2006), aka The Island, an acclaimed film about Russian Orthodox monks. -- The Daily, Variety (x2)
5. Magic Lantern Entertainment is working on Noah's Ark, the follow-up to Promenade Entertainment's computer-animated version of The Ten Commandments (2007) -- and the new film, which has sometimes gone by the title The Flood, is now going to be a "stereoscopic 3-D toon . . . intended for theatrical release." The company's website notes that it is working with Promenade on a version of David and Goliath, as well. -- Variety
6. Ashutosh Gowarikar, director of such Bollywood hits as Lagaan (2001) and Jodhaa Akbar (2008), has been tapped to direct Buddha, a biopic written by David S. Ward (The Sting, Sleepless in Seattle). In the past, it was said the film would cost $120 million, but now it has a reported budget of $35 million. -- Variety