Twentieth Century Fox will not distribute the controversial film "The Passion," Mel Gibson’s take on the death of Jesus. The announcement by Fox, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, came as a small group led by Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind protested at Fox News Corp. headquarters in Manhattan on Aug. 28. Some interfaith scholars have warned that "The Passion" could fuel anti-Semitism because of its portrayal of Jews as being behind Jesus’ crucifixion.
Fox has first refusal rights to movies made by Gibson’s Icon Productions. An unnamed entertainment executive told The New York Times that other major studios like Warner Brothers and Miramax would be approached to distribute the film, spoken in Aramaic and financed and directed by Gibson.
Meanwhile, another potentially problematic Jesus film, "The Gospel of John" is slated for release at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 11, with American distribution to begin Sept. 26. The film, narrated by Christopher Plummer, is billed as a word-for-word adaptation of the fourth Gospel, and one interfaith expert said that is cause for concern.
"John," written some 80 years after the death of Jesus, is the "most problem-filled Gospel book in the New Testament for Jews because it has some of the harshest anti-Jewish language," said Rabbi James Rudin.
For example John 8:44 has Jesus saying to some non-following Jews, "You are descended from the devil and you choose to do the devil’s desires."