• Bible Films Blog

    Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the Bible - past, present and future, as well as preparation for a future work on Straub/Huillet's Moses und Aron and a few bits and pieces on biblical studies.

    Matt Page


    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Nativity News vol.17

    There are a huge number of reviews floating around for The Nativity Story - Rotten Tomatoes alone has 102 (which doesn't even include mine!). Interestingly, whilst their general rating seems to be settling down around 41%, the Cream of the Crop reviewers are on 57%. (Scoring higher for the cream of the crop than the normal reviewers is practically is almost the definition of an art house movie). Elsewhere, Metacritic.com currently has moved up to a rating of 53%. The film did fairly poorly at the box office though. Box Office Mojo reports that it made just over $8 million, coming in 4th overall, in what is traditionally a poorly attended weekend. That said the claim of New Line exec. David Tuckerman that the film did badly at the box office because of poor weather seems to be him clutching at straws. The weekend as a whole was up by about $2 million on the same weekend last year. Here's a bit form Box Office Mojo's weekend summary
    This year, though, saw the super-wide launch of The Nativity Story, but the birth of Christ proved far less popular than the death of Christ.

    The Nativity Story bore an estimated $8 million at 3,183 theaters, crumbs compared to The Passion of Christ's $83.8 million not that it was ever expected to replicate that unique phenomenon. New Line Cinema's $35 million re-telling of the Biblical yarn, positioned for the Christmas holiday like The Passion was for Lent and Easter, was Hollywood's first explicitly Christian movie to come in the wake of The Passion, but performed more in line with the independent Christian pictures, like One Night with the King. Against a raft of Nativity displays and festive secular Christmas fare, The Nativity Story lacked the oomph to be a theatrical must.
    I do think that this one will do a bit better as Christmas draws nearer. In many ways, it feels too early to watch a film about the Nativity just yet. My suspicion is that the marketing strategy is to get a few people to see this film early and hope that they will spread the word to others so as to get bigger audiences as Christmas draws nearer.

    Anyway here are a pick of reviews from a mix of film dedicated publications, major news outlets, and a few other interesting commentators. Readers will be pleased to know I'm not going to comment on each one individually...
    Entertainment Weekly
    Hollywood Reporter
    Shadows on the Wall
    Los Angeles Times [Kenneth Turan]
    Washington Post
    New York Times
    San Francisco Chronicle [Mick LaSalle]
    The New York Times
    The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
    Boston Globe
    Decent Films - faith on film [Steven D. Greydanus]
    Eric D. Snider
    Christianity Today [Peter T. Chattaway]
    Christianity Today [David Neff]
    Looking Closer [Jeffrey Overstreet]
    Darrel Manson
    Frederica Mathewes-Green
    There are a few other pieces I'd like to mention. Over at NT Gateway, Mark Goodacre posts his initial thoughts, as does Mark Roberts.

    Elsewhere, the UK's
    The Guardian
    has a nice preview piece by Hannah Patterson.

    There are also stacks of interviews with a number of the major players. I don't have time to list them all, but thankfully, Queen Spoo is a great deal more on the ball than I am. Peter Chattaway (who has now collected his all his posts on this film together) has got a number of articles up, Mary in the Movies for Christianity Today, plus previews at Christian News, and ChristianWeek, plus of course his review as noted above. He has also posted additional excerpts from his various interviews with Oscar Isaac (Joseph), Shohreh Aghdashloo (Elizabeth and director Catherine Hardwicke. Speaking of Hardwicke, CT's Mark Moring has also interviewed her.

    In other Nativity News Queen Spoo has various new video bits including footage from the premiere (as well as an audio file and PowerPoint), and a behind the scenes promotional video.

    Well I think that's all for now(!). I'll be posting a scene guide later this week to complement my review

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