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Friday, April 28, 2006

The Da Vinci Code: treading the same path as the Passion of the Christ

As religious controversy swirls around the upcoming release of the Da Vinci Code movie, reporters are quick to remember the last film to generate this level of religious controversy:
However, Opus Dei, which is portrayed as a murderous, power-hungry sect in the novel, has specifically refrained from publicly calling for a boycott of the film, aware that bitter criticism of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" helped generate publicity for the movie. [source]
With no clear references to current world religions - will Apocalypto generate this level of controversy?

[Technorati Tags: Apocalypto, Da Vinci Code, Mel Gibson, The Passion of the Christ]

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

New Straights Times optimistic about Apocalypto

Looks like the New Straights Times isn't worried about delayed release dates:

Apocalypto (December)

Anyone who’s seen 2004’s The Passion of the Christ will instantly appreciate the raw energy and look (as glimpsed from the teaser trailer) of Mel Gibson’s new film Apocalypto.

Gibson’s fantastic tale is set in the ancient Mayan kingdom and is supposed to have been filmed entirely in the Mayan language and stars unknowns.

It bears saying that of all the trailers I have seen, Apocalypto’s trailer is easily the sexiest one around. Here, take our ticket money already, Mr Gibson. [source]

Huge 1,500-year-old pyramid discovered in Mexico

From Reuters:

Huge 1,500-year-old pyramid discovered in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Archeologists have discovered a huge 1,500-year-old pre-Hispanic pyramid in a working class district of Mexico City after digging into a hill used every year to depict the crucifixion of Christ.

The unnamed pyramid has the same sized base as the giant Pyramid of the Moon at the famous archeological site of Teotihuacan, an hour's drive northeast of the capital, which is known as the "City of the Gods" and is Mexico's biggest ancient city.

Archeologist Jesus Sanchez said on Wednesday the latest find was built by the same people who constructed Teotihuacan between A.D. 400 and 500, and has evidence that it was used for ceremonial purposes.

"The structure is protected because it is beneath two feet of earth," Sanchez told a radio station.

But half the pyramid has been destroyed as the hill has been used for decades every Easter for a gory re-enactment of the crucifixion of Christ. The religious celebration is attended by hundreds of thousands of believers.

Houses built illegally on one side of the hill have also damaged the pyramid, which is about 60 feet tall, half the height of the Pyramid of the Moon, said Sanchez, archeologist with the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

The site will not be fully explored because it is now considered a religious center in its own right, Sanchez said.

The north side of the pyramid opens out into a large square, whose limits are defined by a low stone wall. On the south side there is another small temple, with evidence of holes in the walls for offerings to be placed.

The site overlooks a vast suburban neighborhood, considered one of Mexico City's poorest and most dangerous. A periphery fence is to be built around it to stop vehicles from entering and damaging it more.

The find is one of many examples in Mexico of important pre-Hispanic sites that have become Catholic places of worship. After the Spanish conquest, conquistadors and envoys of the church superimposed their beliefs on indigenous life.

Churches were built atop ancient shrines and pyramids in sites around Mexico, including Chalma and Cholula near Mexico City. The Mexican capital's massive cathedral was built from stone from pyramids flattened by the Spaniards. [source]

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Looks like someone didn't get the memo...

... and by "someone" we mean "the Home News Tribune":

Aug. 4
"Apocalypto" — Director Mel Gibson follows up "The Passion of the Christ" with another story of ancient times, this time involving Mayan tribes and a young man who flees his impending human sacrifice. Once again, blood will flow and ancient languages reportedly will be used. [source]


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Tongue-in-Cheek oscar predictions

... but oscar predictions nonetheless. Looks like the Wessex Scene agrees with our (very biased) Oscar predictions:

"Forget this year’s Oscars, they’re old. Yawn. It’s time to look ahead to next year’s! Get that credit card, rip this article out and get ready to run down to the bookies to place your bets because these are the sure fire money makers of this year.

Mel Gibson - Best Director (Apocalypto). The director God himself picked to tell us the story of the last days of his son’s death and the struggle of the Scots against the English has now been given a new mission. Amazing, unique and epic are just some of the words used to describe Mel Gibson. [source]

Dare we hope?

Apocalypto Watch user poll and forums!

Want to do something while we settle down and wait for Apocalypto? Here are two things you could do:

Apocalypto delay - more details

We haven't learned that much more since Disney told us the release date was being moved back to December 8th. As far as we can tell, some severe storms hit the set when filming was taking place, doing some significant damage in the process. Now the film crew has to wait around while things get put back together again.

However, there is a silver lining to all this: first, Apocalypto is now going to be premiering during a much better time of the year to make it an Oscar contender. Second, as for the other movies it will now be competing against in early December:
"... [Apocalypto] will face off against The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet and We Are Marshall with Matthew McConnaughey." [source]
... we're not going to get too worried. After all, we think that's what Mel would do.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Disney: Apocalypto delayed until December

Well, it's official - delayed until December:

LOS ANGELES - Movie fans will have to wait a bit longer to see Mel Gibson's next foray into olden times, the Mayan epic "Apocalypto."

The action adventure has been bumped from Aug. 4 release to Dec. 8. A spokesman for Disney, which is releasing "Apocalypto," said Sunday the production had fallen behind because of heavy rains in the wilds of Mexico, where Gibson is shooting the film. [source]

... heavy rains?! Oh well, this may turn out to be a good thing. As always, we'll be monitoring for updates.

Apocalypto release date moved to December?

A couple internet sources are reporting that Apocalypto might be moved back to December:

The big change that'll shake everyone up is "Apocalypto", Mel Gibson's epic tale on the fall of Mayan civilisation. Originally scheduled for August 4th, the film has surprisingly been pushed back by a full four months to December 8th. As a result, Disney Pictures which is distributing has inserted two previously unscheduled films - "Step Up" and "Invincible" into August slots. [source] is also reporting December 8th as the new release date.

A reader of ApocalyptoWatch offered this comment:

"Maybe Touchstone/Disney got a glimpse of what Mel is acutally up to, and decided that this is more than "just" a summer movie. Hello Oscars ..."
Interesting idea, but for right now, this is all just a rumor.

Rest assured, we'll be watching the news wire... keep it tuned here!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

YouTube embedded video of Apocalypto Trailer

A quick and easy way to view the Apocalypto teaser trailer:

Friday, April 14, 2006

NEW Apocalypto Pictures - check them out!

From the official Apocalypto Website:

A waterfall and a Mayan (that's about all we can make of it).

Mel directing an actress on location.

A picture from the river-crossing scene.

[More pictures are available on the official website.]

[Thanks to reader Nicholas for sending in the tip.]

New information button on Apocalypto website

A small news item:

The official Apocalypto Website has added a button for "Mayan Mythology" to their navigation bar. The page has not gone live (yet) but it is something to look forward to nonetheless!

Remember, we've already talked about the primary book Mel Gibson has mentioned as helping him to write the Mayan backdrop to Apocalypto, the Popol Vuh.

Sunday, April 09, 2006 very late to the party...

Proving that there's no such thing as "old news" to some news outlets:

Well, if you saw the Oscars on March 5th, you know that Mel has not lost his sense of humor. At the opening of the Academy Awards, in an opening bit where several Hollywood heavyweights were asked if they would host the show, Mel stood in front of the cast of his film "Apocalypto" speaking many syllables of ancient Mayan with the simple subtitle declaring that he wouldn’t do it. He answered in the language of ancient Mayan that will account for all of the dialogue in "Apocalypto," just as all dialogue in "Passion" was Aramaic. It was a clever play full of his usual self-satirizing wit.

There’s another joke Mel has played on us though, and it is so subtle that it’s been little more than rumor. However, it is not a figment of anyone’s imagination. At approximately 1:48 into the Apocalypto trailer, Mel Gibson suddenly appears standing with his arm around one of the natives donning a long beard and a huge smile. The shot is only a couple of frames long, and you will have to pause and possibly manually search from one frame to the next, but it is there. And, so is the Mel Gibson who had his entire kilt-clad army moon the camera on the set of "Braveheart." Mel continues to entertain us with his perpetual hijinx, and this is merely the latest of them. [source]

INQ7 on Apocalypto (slight spoiler)

*slight spoiler alert* made a brief mention of Apocalypto recently:
"The multi-million-dollar success of 2004's "The Passion of the Christ" has inspired Mel Gibson to direct another non-English language feature, "Apocalypto" (set 600 years ago), about a young man who escapes from being sacrificed to the gods in the ancient Mayan kingdom. Watch out for Gibson's surprise cameo in the film's trailer." [more]

The Bowdoin Orient on Apocalypto

It looks like The Bowdoin Orient is less than excited about Apocalypto:

"And most of the [upcoming] release dates are far in the distance, but at least this will give us all something to look forward to as we trudge through Mel's continuing descent toward insanity in 'Apocalypto'..." [more]

Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Apocalypto starting a trend?


Antonio Banderas is taking a page from Mel Gibson's book - his history book - and is set to play Hernan Cortez in an upcoming film to be called Conquistador. Gibson is currently well along on his Central American historical epic Apocalypto. Daily Variety reports Brazilian eirector Andrucha Waddington is set to direct the medium-budget historical epic this fall in Spain and Mexico.

The script is by Nicholas Kazan and deals with the historical conquistador's violent conquest of the Aztec Empire, which resulted in the destruction of the Aztec's advanced culture. And another page from Apocalypto, some of the scenes will be in Mayan and Nahuatl. Gibson's film will be entirely in native dialect. [source]

[photo credit: Steve Granitz/ Photo]

Cinematical comments on Mel's statements to Time magazine

A long post over at Cinematical ends with a rather provocative mention of Mel's recent comments to a reporter for Time magazine:
Proving, perhaps, that the only real ideology that informs Hollywood is Capitalism, there are signs that industryites, interested in riding the growing wave of political discontent, are abandoning the conservative reformation before it's really even begun. It all goes back, however predictably, to the Passion - or, at the very least, its mastermind, Mel Gibson. Many were stunned to read the following quote, regarding the demise of Mayan civilization in his new epic, Apocalypto, in a recent issue of TIME magazine: "The parallels between the environmental imbalance and corruption of values that doomed the Maya and what's happening to our own civilization are eerie," says [Apocalypto's co-writer]. Gibson, who insists ideology matters less to him than stories of "penitential hardship" like his Oscar-winning Braveheart, puts it more bluntly: "The fearmongering we depict in this film reminds me a little of President Bush and his guys." When even Mel Gibson can't be relied on to spout the party line, we have to start wondering what kind of a culture war we're really fighting. [source]

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Australian newspaper reveals a couple more facts about Apocalypto

In addition to that nice photo from the movie set (credit: Andrew Cooper), the Australian Daily Telegraph newspaper reveals a couple more details about Apocalypto:

It's an enigmatic move from the Oscar-winning director but the massive success of The Passion not only emboldened him, it ensured he now has the financial means to produce whatever he wants with his own money. Gibson said the film's budget was less than $US50 million.

He self-distributed The Passion when Hollywood shunned its uncompromising and polarising version of Jesus' crucifixion – it earned more than $US600 million at the box office globally and more than $15 million in Australia.

The virulent criticism of that movie has steeled him for doubts about his tale of the collapse of South American's Mayan civilisation 800 years ago due to environmental degradation and corruption.

"After what I experienced with The Passion, I frankly don't give a flying f . . . about much of what those critics think," the 50-year-old Gibson told Time magazine last week. He hopes to mix historical profundity – the Mayan invented the concept of zero and designed and built incredible buildings – with a rejuvenation of the stale action genre.

Apocalypto will feature jungle chases, battles and even a gruesome mauling of a native, all shot by fellow Aussie, Dances With Wolves Oscar winner Dean Semler.

Apocalypto will open in Australia on August 10.

So, it looks like the Aussies will be able to watch Apocalypto a bit before the Brits, and Dean Semler is our director of photography.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Associated Press says Apocalypto "sounds promising"

Looks like the Associated Press is tagging some of its hopes for a good summer boxoffice on Apocalypto as well:

"Apocalypto" (summer): Mel Gibson scored the first blockbuster done in ancient languages with "The Passion of the Christ." Now he tells a historical epic in the Mayan tongue of Yucateco, set before the 16th century Spanish conquest of Central America. Gibson says the film will be heavy on imagery and action.

Summer boxoffice looking a little less bleak?

CNN Money took a look at some hopeful movies debuting at the box office this summer, and Apocalypto was mentioned as a "high hope":

He [Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations Co] said another wildcard is Mel Gibson's new movie. His follow-up to "The Passion of the Christ" is another film that, at first blush, doesn't seem like blockbuster material [we beg to differ]. It is called "Apocalypto" and is being billed as an action-adventure film about the end of the Mayan empire. Like "Passion" it will feature subtitles; the cast of "Apocalypto" will be speaking in a Mayan dialect known as Yucatec.