Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spider-Man Money

We announced last year that we were forming Millarworld Productions and would make 'American Jesus' as our first big theatrical feature, and I've been gradually getting the money together for that outside the US system. All my other books were getting bought and made, but this one, which I had huge affection for, was just never going to happen. Everyone was just too nervous about doing a Jesus movie, and I was like 'Are you kidding me?!?' Mel Gibson made a Jesus movie, and it made $650 million dollars. What's your concern? It made 'Spider-Man' money!
- Mark Millar

Yesterday I briefly talked about the possibility of American Jesus: Book One - Chosen by Mark Millar and Peter Gross becoming a movie. In January of this year, Mark Millar spoke to Comic Book Resources about many things, including a movie version of Chosen. Now, Millar has already had fairly solid success with his creator-owned books becoming films, such as Wanted and Kick-Ass. The future looks like it will be filled with even more Millar movies, as several of his comic series get optioned for movie adaptations before the first issue even hits the stand. Superior, Supercrooks, and Nemesis are rumored to already be on their way.

But in the interview, Millar says he has a soft spot for Chosen, and it does read like a very personal story. He'd love to see it come to the big screen, but apparently financial backers are hesitant about making a movie about Jesus. In response, Millar uses The Passion of the Christ as an example of the financial viability of cinematic Jesus:
Mel Gibson made a Jesus movie, and it made $650 million dollars. What's your concern? It made 'Spider-Man' money!
I love that quote. I really do. I also find the comparisons between Jesus and comic book superheroes interesting. Of course I've talked before about Superman as a messianic figure. But the analogy works in the reverse as well. How many times have you heard someone insist Jesus is the "original superman." Have you heard such things? I know I have, but maybe that's just one of those things I pick up on. I know there's an old Pillar song about it.

Anyway, we live in the great era of the blockbuster comic book movie. And here Millar implies a movie adaptation of a comic book about Jesus and preform similarly to superhero movies. But let's take a look. Did The Passion really make "Spider-Man money?"

According to Box Office Mojo, The Passion of the Christ made over $370 million at the domestic box office. Add in the foreign intake of $241 million, and we wind up with a total of $611 million. Not quite 650 million, but close enough that I'll give it to Millar.

The first Spider-Man movie made $403 million domestically. That is awfully close to what The Passion made. However, Spider-Man made far more at the foreign box office, bringing in and additional $418 million, far surpassing the total box office for Gibson's film. So, Millar's claim isn't precisely accurate, but his point is still made. The domestic box office between the two films is definitely comparable. Jesus certainly did do Spider-Man money. And if we really wanted to get picky, we could take into account that The Passion's production budget of $30 million was a mere fraction of Spider-Man's $139 million budget.

Life is crazy. There was a time when nobody wanted to touch a comic book movie. Now we can use comic book movies as a benchmark for profit. These are exciting times to be a fan of graphic literature. These are also exciting times to be a Christian. I presume the general Christian populace has never heard of Chosen before. I bet a big screen version of the book, though, will change that. The reception will be fun to witness.

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