Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Gospel of Mark runs into problems

As I have commented before (e.g. here), Visual Bible International's next planned project has been The Gospel of Mark. VBI are the group who produced Matthew and The Gospel of John. But now it seems that The Gospel of Mark may be running into trouble. This is from the Globe and Mail

Drabinsky sequel a question Mark
Cash-flow difficulties at Visual Bible International appear to have halted plans by former theatre impresario Garth Drabinsky to produce a "sequel" to The Gospel of John . . .

. . . . Yesterday, however, a spokesperson for Visual Bible International said that a decision hasn't been made as to what VBI's next production will be. It "may or may not be The Gospel of Mark," she said . . . .

A call earlier this week to the Los Angeles agent of Henry Ian Cusick, the actor who starred as Jesus in The Gospel of John and was touted to play him again in Mark, revealed that its client has "received no offer. " A spokesperson for Toronto Film Studios, where many of the interiors of The Gospel of John were shot, said "we haven't been contacted yet" by VBI about booking space this summer or fall. Moreover, an advisory committee of scholars used to comment on the accuracy and authenticity of VBI scripts has yet to discuss or approve a third draft of the Mark script prepared by John Goldsmith, the British screenwriter of The Gospel of John.

Visual Bible has been rocked in recent months by en masse resignations of its board of directors and poorer-than-anticipated sales of the three-disc DVD and three-tape VHS sets of The Gospel of John that went into retail outlets across North America April 6. In a filing made April 23 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, VBI said that unless sales of its John DVD/video set improve considerably -- as of last month, it had "generated in excess of $5-million in sales"-- and additional capital is raised, it "will certainly be in default [on its debts] and may be forced to cease its operations." . . . .
I'll keep a look out for news on this. As a fan of The Gospel of John, I'd be sorry to see the plans for Mark dropped.

There are more on Visual Bible International's problems in this article, also from the Globe and Mail:

Falling sales, criticism dog Drabinsky venture
Visual Bible left with only one director as company admits it's in trouble
As sales stalled, the company's board has been embroiled in controversy. In February, Toronto businessman Steven Small quit as chairman and sent a letter, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, strongly criticizing the company. A few weeks later, four other directors quit -- including former Ontario Premier Mike Harris and Elly Reisman, a Toronto developer whose group is owed about $14-million (U.S.). Only one director remains.
This report also reveals that the chief academic consultant on The Gospel of John, Peter Richardson, has resigned from the board:
Among the many advisers on the project were Peter Richardson, a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto's Department of Religious Studies. At the film's opening, he said the film's producers "caught the atmosphere better than I would ever have dreamed that they could do."

Prof. Richardson resigned from the board in March. He was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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