Mel Gibson is reportedly planning a sequel to his controversial 2004 movie “The Passion of the Christ,” the retelling of Jesus’s final hours that drew accusations of playing into notions of Jewish culpability for his death.
Screenwriter Randall Wallace, who penned Gibson’s 1995 Oscar-winning epic “Braveheart,” told The Hollywood Reporter this week that he and the actor-director are working on a script for the new movie, which will portray Jesus’s resurrection.
“I always wanted to tell this story,” the Reporter quoted Wallace as saying. “The Passion is the beginning and there’s a lot more story to tell.”
Wallace attributed the decision to Christian demand for a sequel.
“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,” Wallace said.
The Hollywood Reporter said that the two are still in the early stages of developing a script, and that no studio or funding has yet been lined up. Wallace, however, said that there had been interest from several financiers. “It’s too early to talk money,” he said. “This is such a huge and sacred subject.”
“The Passion of the Christ,” directed by Gibson, was a box office smash — making a total of $612 million on a budget of $30 million. It is the highest-grossing religious film in movie history and was nominated for three Academy Awards.
Many Jewish viewers were disgusted not only by the violence depicted in the movie, but by the active role that Jews are depicted as having in Jesus’ crucifixion. Jewish high priests are shown as forcing an ambivalent Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, into nailing Jesus on the cross.
Gibson’s own reputation has nose-dived since he was caught on tape in 2006 delivering an anti-Semitic rant to police.
In 2012, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas said in a letter to Gibson that the actor and filmmaker “hates Jews.” Writing after Warner Bros. rejected his screenplay for Gibson’s movie about Judah Maccabee, Eszterhas said that Gibson wanted to make the movie only so he could “convert the Jews to Christianity.”
A spokesman for Gibson declined to comment on his involvement in a sequel to “The Passion,” The Hollywood Reporter said.
JTA and AFP contributed to this report