Thursday, April 14, 2005

More Visual Bible International problems

Visual Bible International is the group that produced Matthew, Acts and, most recently, The Gospel of John. I recently reported on the Gospel of Mark teaser trailer now available. But the group has consistently run into financial problems (Gospel of Mark runs into problems, Visual Bible International Struggles; Visual Bible International Update; Visual Bible Intertnational Latest) and now comes the following article today on CBC News:

Visual Bible International placed in receivership, put up for sale
TORONTO (CP) - Visual Bible International Inc., a "faith-based" media company that released a film version of the Gospel of John produced by Garth Drabinsky, was placed in receivership Wednesday and put up for sale.

"It is the intention that VBI will continue to operate throughout the receivership process, during which time the interim receiver intends to actively search for a buyer for the company," the privately held company stated.

It said its principal secured lender supports the process . . . .

. . . . The company says it recently concluded an agreement with Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment Inc., which will distribute the film of the New Testament Gospel of John and an upcoming film based on the Gospel of Mark's account of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ . . . .
The Buena Vista deal is the one that has produced the following website, to which I have referred before: The Gospel of John: The Official Website, and which also includes the Gospel of Mark teaser trailer I mentioned above.

Update (Friday, 02.05): The Globe and Mail has more and it is not looking good:

Court appoints Visual Bible receiver
by Paul Waldie
. . . .Despite those setbacks, Visual Bible planned to make a film this year, based on the Book of Mark, with Mr. Drabinsky as producer. It even signed a new contract with him in April, 2004, for $25,000 (U.S.) a month.

However, losses continued to pile up. The company's last financial statements show a loss of $10.3-million for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2004. That compares with a loss of $4.4-million in the same period a year earlier. Sales were $7.2-million.

Documents filed in court yesterday allege Visual Bible had defaulted on several debentures, could not meet payroll on April 1, 2005, and had a negative cash flow of $170,000 a month.

"The marketing of the [Book of John] film has been a commercial failure," Ed Rosenblat, an adviser to a group of debt holders, alleged in an affidavit. Visual Bible "has been unable to generate sufficient revenue from the film to meet its operating costs and debt obligations," he said. The company "has no reasonable prospect for improving its financial performance." . . . .

. . . .Peter Farkas, managing partner at RSM Richter Inc., which was appointed receiver, said the company will continue operating, but the Book of Mark film is on hold "until they get refinanced."

He added that he has been told by company employees that Mr. Drabinsky and Mr. Gottlieb have not been active in the company for several months.
So it looks like we are not going to see Gospel of Mark any time soon.


MattPage said...

Interesting that they are looking at both Plummer and Cusick again. I quite like how John presented a visually different Jesus to Matthew. That said Cusick was excellent as Jesus so it would be good to see him get another outing. He'll be the first actor to play Jesus twice since Robert Wilson (I Beheld his Glory (1952) and Day of Triumph (1954)).

But plummer asa narrator is a shame. Again he was good in John, but Mark's gospel is certainly a different voice, even if you could argue that it's central character is still the same.

Anonymous said...

It's such a shame that Christians have not rallied behind VBI and its films. This is such an important ministry. Why couldn't this film have been given the same marketing opportunities that The Passion had? Here'a a thought: maybe Mel Gibson should buy VBI.... his financial power and influence in the film industry, coupled with his zeal to hold God's word before the faces of an unbelieving world, would be a tremendous asset to VBI.

I disagree with the comment that Christopher Plummer would not be a good choice as the narrator of Mark. I felt he did an outstanding job narrating John. In fact, I wish VBI could have used the Plummer/Cusick combination for all of its productions.

jggrove said...

I liked the casting and production of Matthew and Acts best. John was not that good. I had seen a version of John staring Bruce Marchiano years ago. It was out before Matthew and Acts, but I don't know where it went. I'd like to find that one. I saw it on TV.