- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2016

Mel Gibson is working on a sequel to his surprise 2004 blockbuster “The Passion of the Christ,” it was confirmed by the man who is co-writing the script.

Randall Wallace, who also wrote the Gibson-directed Oscar-winner “Braveheart,” said the project will focus on the only logical choice after the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus — the Resurrection.

“I always wanted to tell this story,” Mr. Wallace said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter published Thursday evening, confessing that keeping the project under wraps was simply becoming too difficult.

“‘The Passion’ is the beginning and there’s a lot more story to tell,” he said,

Mr. Wallace also co-wrote the hit 2014 religious drama “Heaven Is For Real” and worked with the Australian actor-auteur on the upcoming “Hacksaw Ridge,” about a World War II medic.

The writer told Hollywood Reporter that the project is only in the script-writing stage for now, and there is no studio or money lined up.

“It’s too early to talk money,” he adds. “This is such a huge and sacred subject.”

Mr. Gibson has become somewhat of a pariah in Hollywood in recent years over several alcohol-fueled incidents of domestic-violence and anti-Semitism, plus his open devotion to a traditionalist form of Catholicism, all of which may make financial support difficult to come by.

But Mr. Wallace said the demand for a sequel to “The Passion of the Christ” — the highest-grossing independent film, R-rated film, and foreign-language film in U.S. history — is so overwhelming that he and Mr. Gibson are confident that financing will be found.

“The evangelical community considers ‘The Passion’ the biggest movie ever out of Hollywood, and they kept telling us that they think a sequel will be even bigger,” he said.

Steven Greydanus, film critic for the National Catholic Register, took to Twitter to express skepticism about how well a Resurrection film would mesh with Mr. Gibson style and sensibility.

“So many concerns. The drama of THE PASSION has an essentially ritual shape, following the Stations of the Cross or the Sorrowful Mysteries with mythic good-vs-evil, God-vs-Satan significance and thematic material playing straight to Gibson’s strengths / obsessions as an artist,” he wrote over several tweets.

“The story of Easter, the resurrection appearances, the Ascension, Pentecost, the founding of the Church — there’s none of that … Gibson would have to completely reinvent himself or the material,” wrote Mr. Greydanus, who was also recently ordained as a deacon with the Archdiocese of Newark.

After benefiting from months of public furor throughout 2003 and early 2004 over Mr. Gibson’s interpretations of the Gospels and some of the non-Gospel material he used, “The Passion of the Christ” made more than $600 million worldwide despite costing only $30 million to make.

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