Compiled by: Jack Foley
SIR Ridley Scott's Crusades epic, Kingdom of Heaven, has topped
the UK and US Box Office in its first week of release.
The film, which stars Orlando Bloom, posted strong figures in
its first week of release in the UK, and took an estimated $20m
(£10.5m) at the US over the weekend.
However, its US takings were not enough to lift Hollywood from
its current box office slump, where takings for the last 11 weekends
have been down compared with the same period last year.
Kingdom of Heaven's $20m is also being viewed as a relatively
poor performance for one of the summer's first blockbusters, given
that in the same weekend last year, Van
Helsing took $52m, while the likes of X-Men
2 made $86m in 2003 and Spider-Man
opened with $115m in 2002.
The critical reaction has also been mixed in both countries,
with as many negative reviews as positives.
The New Yorker, for instance, wrote that: "One imagined
that a movie about the Crusades would be gallant and mad; one
feared that it might stoke some antiquated prejudice. But who
could have dreamed that it would produce this rambling, hollow
show about a boy?"
While the Globe and Mail lamented that 'no one should be offended
except, of course, those who like movies that excite the mind
as well as the pulse'.
But the Hollywood Reporter opined
that 'Kingdom fulfills the requirements of grand-scale moviemaking
while serving as a timely reminder that in the conflict between
Christianity and Islam it was the Christians who picked the first
And Variety described it as 'genuinely spectacular and historically
More encouraging was the fact that Scott's epic has largely been
welcomed in the Arab world, many of whom praised it for doing
away with traditional Muslim stereotypes.
Lebanese author, Amin Maalouf, declared that 'Kingdom of Heaven
goes against religious fanaticism very clearly', while Egyptian
film critic, Tarek al-Shenawy, was pleased to report that 'the
aim of the film is to heal wounds, not reopen them'.
Given that there had been much concern that the epic would heighten
tension in the current climate, with many feeling a sense of relief
that the film did not appear damaging in any way.
Deana Elimam, an Egyptian-American critic, for instance, said
that 'my impression is that the historical sequences were fairly
accurate. The spirit of those times is there'.
While other declared that 'it is enough that he [Scott] presents
an image in which there is some balance'.
Given the pre-release controversy surrounding the film, and its
harsh battle violence, distributor, Twentieth Century Fox, is
'delighted' with the global reaction to it, both in terms of box
office and critical support.
Aside from America, the film also took $56m (£29.7m) in
other parts of the world, including the UK.