Mel Gibson planning 'Passion of the Christ' sequel (Exclusive)

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Mel Gibson planning 'Passion of the Christ' sequel

Mel Gibson and writer Randall Wallace are working on a sequel to The Passion of the Christ that will tell the story of the resurrection of Jesus, Wallace tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Wallace, nominated for an Oscar for scripting Gibson's 1995 best picture winner Braveheart, on Thursday (reluctantly) confirmed rumors that he has begun to write a script for a story about the resurrection, telling THR that the project is becoming too difficult to keep under wraps.

Wallace, who most recently directed and co-wrote the 2014 faith-based drama Heaven Is for Real, says he and Gibson began to get serious about a sequel to The Passion, the most successful independent film of all time, while making Hacksaw Ridge, which Gibson directed and Wallace co-wrote. Hacksaw Ridge opens in November and is about World War II Army medic Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

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Wallace was a religion major at Duke University and says the resurrection was a specialty of his. "I always wanted to tell this story," he says. "The Passion is the beginning and there's a lot more story to tell."

A rep for Gibson declined to comment on the filmmaker-actor's involvement in a Passion sequel.

The Passion, Gibson's story of the persecution and crucifixion of Jesus, was released in 2004 by the independent Newmarket Films and earned a whopping $612 million worldwide on a $30 million production budget. Since then, many in Hollywood have presumed a sequel would some day be made, but Gibson has moved on to other projects.

Rumors swirled anew last month when Gibson was a surprise guest at Liberty University's graduation ceremony to do an advance screening of Hacksaw Ridge and was asked about a Passion follow-up. He expressed interest in making a sequel but was not specific about his involvement. Wallace says demand in the Christian community influenced he and Gibson's willingness to do another film.

"The evangelical community considers The Passion the biggest movie ever out of Hollywood, and they kept telling us that they think a sequel will be even bigger," Wallace says.

No studio or financial backing has been lined up for the project, which is still in the early script stage. But Wallace indicates there are several financiers interested in investing. "It's too early to talk money," he adds. "This is such a huge and sacred subject."

In February, Sony released Risen, which tells the story of the resurrection, though Gibson wasn't involved. The movie made $46 million worldwide on a $20 million budget.

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