The Passion of the Christ star Jim Caviezel says director Mel Gibson's sequel to the blockbuster film is moving forward and that he will once again play Jesus. Released in 2004, The Passion of the Christ was a massive hit worldwide, earning $370 million at the domestic box office and more than $241 million overseas for a global take of $611 million against a $30 million budget. What made The Passion of the Christ's take even impressive is that due to the film's brutal depiction of the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus it was rated R, making it only one of a handful of films in movie history to make more than $300 million stateside.
Even though the film was heavily embraced by audiences, The Passion of the Christ was met with intense controversy, not only because of the film's depiction of violence, but protests by Jewish leaders warning that the film would fan the flames of anti-Semitism. And while Gibson denied those claims, he didn't help his case when he went on a highly-publicized anti-Semitic rant after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in California in 2006; an incident that Gibson apologized for, but not without paying a price. Gibson's career both in front of and behind the camera no doubt suffered following that incident – and following some more publicized personal troubles – the Oscar-winning Braveheart director-producer reemerged 10 years later with the critically acclaimed, true-life World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge.
The film earned six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director for Gibson, and Best Actor for Andrew Garfield, signaling a major comeback for the once-embattled filmmaker. Now, less than two years following the success of Hacksaw Ridge and word that the sequel was in development, Gibson appears poised to revisit The Passion of the Christ. According to USA Today, Caviezel he will play Jesus once again, with the film focusing on the resurrection. In an interview with the publication, Caviezel could not give out many details about the film, except to say, "There are things that I cannot say that will shock the audience. It's great. Stay tuned."
Caviezel already appears confident in the film's global appeal, adding, "I won’t tell you how he’s going to go about it. But I’ll tell you this much, the film he’s going to do is going to be the biggest film in history. It’s that good."
Normally any claim from anyone in the industry about their project becoming "the biggest film in history" is a lofty one, but Caviezel's declaration no doubt has some merit. After all, no one in the industry could have predicted the enormous impact The Passion of the Christ would have on the box office, especially stateside, because of its R rating, so no prediction of the success of its sequel seems to be that far-fetched.
So long as Gibson doesn't use flashbacks to The Passion of the Christ to set up his film about the resurrection of Jesus, it's completely within reason to think that the director will go with a PG or PG-13 rating for the sequel, opening up the film to a much bigger audience. Also in the sequel's corner are the continuing successes of faith-based films, where low-budgeted fare like God's Not Dead and War Room defied odds at the box office to become major hits. On top of that, another faith-based film is soon on the way with in Paul, Apostle of Christ (March 28), where Caviezel stars as Luke opposite James Faulkner as the title character. If any sequel appears immediately poised for success, it has to be follow-up to The Passion of the Christ.
Source: USA Today