Will there be a sequel to The Passion of the Christ or not? Rumors spread earlier this year in June that Mel Gibson would be working on a second story when screenwriter Randall Wallace reluctantly told The Hollywood Reporter that he had begun the initial writing for such a project.
“I always wanted to tell this story,” he says. “The Passion is the beginning and there’s a lot more story to tell.”
But up until now, no official word had been given from Gibson himself. However, the actor and director made a surprise appearance at evangelist Greg Laurie’s SoCal Harvest at Angel Stadium last Sunday night to address these rumors. When asked if a sequel to The Passion was going to happen or not, Gibson said that he and Wallace were considering the idea.
— Greg Laurie (@greglaurie) September 2, 2016
“We’re talking about that. Of course, that is a huge undertaking. And you know, it’s not the Passion 2. It’s called The Resurrection. Of course, that’s a very big subject and it needs to be looked at because we don’t want to just do a simple rendering of it — you know, read what happened.”
“But in order to read it, experience and explore probably deeper meanings of what it’s about, it’s going to take some doing and Randall Wallace is up to the task. He is also, as well as a brilliant writer, he is a great director. He directed We Were Soldiers and Heaven is for Real and stuff. So, he is a good writer and director.”
Released in 2004, The Passion of the Christ had a budget of $30 million but earned $370 million at U.S. box offices.
“The evangelical community considers The Passion the biggest movie ever out of Hollywood, and they kept telling us that they think a sequel will be even bigger,” says Wallace.
That may be true, but the world is a different place than it was in 2004. When The Passion was released, Jewish groups complained that Gibson “relied on anti-Semitic stereotypes to depict Jesus’s persecutors, including Caiaphas, the high priest,” says Times of Israel. Then, two years later when arrested for driving while intoxicated in Southern California, Mel Gibson went off on an anti-Semitic rant against the Jewish officer. Many have yet to forgive the 60-year-old for his actions.
Whether to be known as a sequel or a continuation of the story, there are other factors that could work against the success of The Resurrection movie. Some blame the recent failure of the much anticipated Ben-Hur remake by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett and the earlier Exodus: Gods and Kings on the thought that “bathrobes and sandals” epics are no longer in vogue. Then, there are those like Steven D. Greydanus, film critic for the National Catholic Register, who agrees with Gibson that telling the resurrection story would be a difficult task.
“Where the story of Jesus’ passion is focused and linear — the point at which all four Gospel narratives most closely converge — the resurrection appearances are scattered and fragmented. With the passion narrative, we follow Jesus every step of the way; after the resurrection, he’s here, there, speaking first with this woman, then with those two disciples, and so forth. In a word, we have a collection of episodes, not a story per se. This is part of the reason there is a long tradition of passion plays, but not of resurrection-appearance plays. Suffice to say this material calls for great sensitivity.”
So while Mel Gibson continues to wrestle with the idea of a Passion sequel, he is busy promoting his newest film, Hacksaw Ridge, a true story that also contains a Christian message. The story is about Desmond Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist who served in World War II but refused to take a weapon with him. He is credited for saving 75 lives of his fellow soldiers while in battle.
“Desmond was that he was a conscientious objector and he went into battle without a weapon as a medic and what he did was super-natural and He only did it through faith. He was armed only with his faith,” Gibson told Laurie.
Starring Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge will open in theaters on November 4. If Hacksaw Ridge is received well, you can expect more from Mel who says that he would like to make more movies about faith.
“Faith is a real thing. I think that often times, I made the ultimate superhero film in the Passion of the Christ. Someone like Desmond Doss is also a superhero and real superheroes don’t wear spandex and they don’t have a lot of 3-D special effects. But, they do operate on a higher level, on a supernatural level. They actually look and appeal to something greater than themselves and then they do something super human.”
[Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]