'Noah' And Five Other Movies That Sparked Religious Controversy

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Darren Aronofsky’s Noah might have faced some religious controversy during its initial opening, but its ridden that wave right to the top of the US box office, becoming a certified sucess already. As Aronofsky surely knew, any movie featuring a religious theme or borrowing from the bible is almost certain to find itself in some kind of hot water, whether it causes protests or even ends up getting an outright ban. For some movies the ensuing publicity translates into box office sales, for others, a bit of controversy doesn't end up creating cash. Here are five other films with religious leanings that faced controversy long before Noah stormed the box office.

Russell Crowe in Darren Aronofsky’s NoahRussell Crowe in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah

Dogma (1999)

A film about two fallen angels finding a loophole in Catholicism that helps get them back into heaven was bound to stir up a bit of religious controversy and unsurprisingly it did. Kevin Smith’s 1999 comedy, starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as the troublesome angels, earned the director at least two death threats and saw many organise protests against the film. The protests were serious enough to delay the film’s release. When the film eventually did make it to the big screen viewers were given the disclaimer, ‘even God has a sense of humor–just look at the platypus,’ which still didn't make protestors see the funny side. However despite all the publicity the movie only managed to make a somewhat disappointing $30 million at the box office.

Life of Brian (1979)

Comedy troupe, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, sparked huge controversy when it was released in 1979. The story of a young Jewish man who gets mistaken for the messiah, was deemed blasphemous by many upon its initial release and it was even banned in many areas of the UK as well as abroad. Always looking for the laugh, the Python boys used the controversy upon the film’s Swedish release, with a poster saying, “The film so funny that it was banned in Norway.” Despite, or maybe thanks to the controversy the film became a box office hit, taking over $20 million (not bad for 1979.) Since its release, Life of Brian has been held up as one of the greatest screen comedies of all time and was ranked as the 28th Best British film of all time by the BFI.

Mel Gibson Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ became a contraversial box office hit

The Passion of the Christ (2004)

Mel Gibson’s 2004 retelling of Jesus’s last days became a controversial money maker that pulled in over $611 million at the worldwide box office. For starters, the movie angered the Jewish community, who saw it as anti semitic, feeling that it depicted Jewish leaders as responsible for the death of Jesus. There was also controversy over what many though were scenes of excessive violence throughout the film. Critic Roger Ebert called it "the most violent film I have ever seen”, whilst still giving it four out of four stars. Largely though, critics were divided, but audiences still flocked to the cinema’s to see the much publicised release, making it the highest grossing non-English-language film of all time.

More: 'Noah' Set To Storm The UK Box Office As Emma Watson and Co Attend London Premiere

Next page: The Last Temptation of Christ, and Battlefield Earth

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