Heaven help us, we’re getting a sequel. Yes, really.
In the year 33 A.D.
Just when you thought it was safe to head back into the Garden of Gethsemane...
Now Jesus means business.
There have long been whispers that Mel Gibson was close to shooting a sequel to his 2004 biblical epic The Passion of the Christ, with actor Jim Caviezel reprising his role as Jesus. Many thought this was just a rumour or even a joke, as the current title for the supposed sequel is the rather hilarious / bordering on action caper parody _The Passion of the Christ: Resurrection -_which sounds like a Family Guy 'Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This' sketch rather than another biblically-faithful R-rated epic.
However, it seems like plans for the sequel are going ahead, with the film reportedly focusing on the three days between Jesus' death and resurrection, where many Christians believe Jesus descended into Hell.
In an interview, Gibson confirmed that the film is “coming soon” and that there are two scripts – one more linear and the other more like an “acid trip”.
“I have two scripts and one of them is very structured and very strong script and kind of more what should expect and the other is like an acid trip," said Gibson. "Because you’re going into other realms and stuff. I mean you’re in hell and you’re watching the angels fall. It’s like crazy.”
Gibson has been working on the screenplay with Braveheart and We Were Soldiers (both starring Gibson) screenwriter Randall Wallace.
Gibson continued by saying that the film is “a massive undertaking”, one that can’t be done “lightly” or “quickly”.
“You have to really consider what it is that you need to show in order to be poignant,” he added. “It can’t be linear. You have to have many things to juxtapose against one another even from different time periods in order to illustrate what something means in a more full way.”
When the interviewer asked Gibson if Caviezel would return as Jesus Christ, he said: “Yeah, of course. Nobody else. I don’t know it’s going to be a Rip Van Winkle kind of thing (referring to Caviezel’s aging). Three days later look he’s got wrinkles. You can fix that stuff now.”
The rumour is that production has already started. No firm release date has been locked, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Gibson aim for Easter 2024, in order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first film's release.
The Passion of the Christ was principally inspired by the Gospel of John and chronicled the final 12 hours of Jesus’ life, including the betrayal of Judas, the scourging at the pillar, and the crucifixion. It did not shy away from the violent content (to say the least), and its release became controversial due to the violent content, as well as charges of antisemitism - not helped by Gibson's own personal controversies.
The film grossed over $612 million worldwide (approx. €561.5 million with current inflation) and became the fifth highest-grossing film of 2004 internationally. It is the highest-grossing independent film of all time (with a production budget of $30 million), and still remains the highest grossing R-rated movie in the US, with $370.8 million.
So, with a sequel on the way, can we expect a franchise?
The Passion of the Christ: Meet me at the Mount of Olives? The Passion of the Christ: Ascension?
Let’s not give Gibson any more ideas...