Mel Gibson directing the Passion of the Christ. Photo by Phillippe Antonello, courtesy Icon Distribution

'Passion of the Christ' sequel in the works

(RNS) Mel Gibson is hoping for a hit with a sequel to his 2004 blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ," this time with a film focusing on the resurrection.

Gibson will direct the movie based on a screenplay by Randall Wallace, Wallace confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter Thursday (June 9).

"I always wanted to tell this story," said Wallace who wrote the script for Gibson's 1995 best picture Oscar winner Braveheart. "The Passion is the beginning and there's a lot more story to tell."

The blockbuster Passion, which grossed $612 million, remains as the highest-earning independent film and the highest-earning religious film of all time.

The R-rated movie inspired many Christians, but also drew critics.

Starring James Caviezel as Jesus, the movie, concentrating on the last day of Jesus' life, shows his torture and crucifixion in detail so graphic that some accused Gibson, a traditionalist Catholic, of reveling in gore.

Jewish civil rights group called out Gibson for implying in the movie that the Jews were responsible for Jesus' death, a belief that has fueled millennia of anti-Semitic violence.

No studio or financial backers have yet attached themselves to The Passion sequel, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "It's too early to talk money," Wallace said. "This is such a huge and sacred subject."

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