If this past weekend was any indication, people are a lot more interested in the death or Jesus than his birth. Or maybe they'd just prefer Mel Gibson's take on the classic story. Back in February of 2004 (Ash Wednesday, to be precise), The Passion of the Christ opened in theaters, and quickly became the highest grossing R-rated film in history -- it earned $25 million per day in its first five days. Of course, the built-in audience for this bad boy was massive -- not only in the United States, but worldwide -- and when it arrived on DVD on August 31, 2004, it reportedly sold 2.4 million copies by midday. There was controversy. There was buzz. And, once again, there was Mel Gibson.
Two years later (last January, to be precise), New Line acquired Mike Rich's spec script, Nativity, and vowed to have it in theaters by the following Christmas. Yes, for those who aren't aware, The Nativity Story (its current title) was thrown together in a little under a year -- from script purchase to finished product -- and was quickly released in 3,183 theaters last Friday. With Christmas only a few weeks away, you'd think this was the perfect time to release a film that revolves around the birth of Jesus, right? Wrong. The film took in only $8 million, the second lowest total in history for a film debuting on over 3,100 screens. But why did it tank? Bad marketing? Poor reviews? Were people too busy Christmas shopping? Was it because Mel Gibson and the controversy were absent? And why are people so afraid to promote a film whose story inspired the holiday they're about to celebrate?
So, I ask you: Why did The Nativity Story fail to put people in seats? And, on a more personal note, why didn't you go see it?