Are Christians Really Keeping the Charles Darwin Movie Out of U.S. Theaters?

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Photo: Courtesy of Icon Film Distribution

Probably not! Earlier this week, London's Daily Mail reported that a producer for Creation, the Charles Darwin biopic starring Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, and this terrible hairdo, is blaming the film's inability to secure U.S. distribution on the film's subject matter — specifically that "religious American audiences" would find "his theories on human evolution too controversial." Jeremy Thomas, the producer in question, continued: "It is unbelievable to us that this is still a really hot potato in America. There's still a great belief that He made the world in six days."

You've no doubt been subjected to a million tweets from outraged friends and invited to join Facebook groups defending Creation against the mobs of pitchfork-wielding creationists massing against it. But maybe the movie's just not that good? And a money loser to boot?

For instance! Hardly anyone liked Creation when it screened last week in Toronto. (Sample quote: "Flat, dull, and painful to sit through.") And it stars two actors who, despite being former Brooklynites and adorable and married, are not exactly stars with box-office clout.

Let's see: Period biopic about a writer most people don't feel that strongly about? Marginal lead actor who's liked but not loved? British pedigree and bad reviews? This sounds exactly like the kind of movie that some distributor would have snapped up three years ago in an attempt to put together an Oscar campaign and then would have lost a big fat wad of cash on. It's like the 2009 version of Miss Potter, but with Paul Bettany in the Renée Zellweger role.

More to the point, the article in the Daily Mail (motto: "Okay, George Clooney didn't actually write that") doesn't cite any actual instances of actual distributors shying away from the movie because of fears of Christian protest. It just quotes a guy with a vested interest in raising a little controversy around his movie. (We asked the film's publicists if the producers could provide any evidence to back up the claim and were told, "They remain optimistic that they will get U.S. distribution and are working hard to make that happen.")

So hold off on the angry tweeting for now. Maybe creationists will picket Creation when it finally gets a distribution deal, maybe as soon as today. And maybe it'll turn out to be great and get nominated for a hundred Oscars and divide the nation like no movie since Fahrenheit 9/11. But it isn't under attack yet, and it doesn't need you to defend it.

New Charles Darwin film is 'too controversial' for religious American audiences [Daily Mail]