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EDITOR'S COLUMN: Mel's second Jesus film flops
Jerusalem, Feb. 9, 2005: Mel Gibsons long-awaited prequel to The Passion of the Christ had a shocking opening last night, as the public and a select group of leaders reacted negatively to a special screening in this ancient city where Christ was crucified.
The world had been waiting anxiously for Prequel to the Passion: The Christ on the Mount, since Gibsons first religious film caused widespread controversy and deep emotional reactions, while generating millions of dollars in profit last year.
The first movie was so successful that Gibson decided to recreate on film Jesus Sermon on the Mount, which inspired crowds long before his bloody crucifixion took place.
To Gibsons surprise, when the curtain fell on Prequel, audience reaction was entirely negative. A group of teenagers were first to express their disappointment.
No whips, no blood, no nails, no jeering mob, said one of the teens. Just a guy in a robe sitting on a mountain, talking to a bunch of people. Totally boring. I was robbed of seven bucks.
The more famous members of the audience were just as negative, only in different ways.
I couldnt believe it, said Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense. This is going directly to Homeland Security. The guy says to love your enemies. To bless those who curse you. Nowhere does he recommend blowing them away with smart bombs. We may have an Al-Qaida on our hands.
Equally nonplussed were a number of Hollywood media moguls who made the trip to Jerusalem for the premier of Prequel.
I just dont get it, said Michael Eisner, chairman of the Disney Corp., which made its name on wholesome family entertainment before branching out. The guy says whoever looks at a woman in lust has already committed adultery. Hey, this is ridiculous. Almost everything we do is aimed at creating lust. If people took this guy seriously, nobody would go to our movies and theyd turn away from our most popular TV shows and magazines. Wed all go broke.
Eisner wanted to say more, but The Rev. Franklin Graham interjected his own thoughts. He told us not to resist an evil person, the reverend said in disbelief. To turn the other cheek, time after time. It makes no sense. Of course, he was speaking centuries before they invented Muslims, so maybe theres a loophole.
It was clear that Bill Gates, the worlds richest man, was simmering after the film ended. The guy said to do charitable deeds in secret, so only God will know, he fumed. I give away billions, and make sure everyone knows about it. Whats the use of being rich if nobody knows how generous you are? I really resent being told this is wrong.
Mel Gibson looked downcast after hearing all the negative comments, but he didnt have much time to worry about all the money he would surely lose on his second Jesus film.
Ironically, the audience dragged him outside and crucified him.