When Charlton Heston died two years ago, one of his film roles that was most mentioned was his turn as Moses in "The Ten Commandments." It's the type of performance that's so iconic that the actor becomes the character in the culture's mind. No one else could play Moses after that because, hey, that Heston's part. But considering that it's been more than 50 years since "The Ten Commandments" came out, it's probably about time for Hollywood to make another Moses movie. In fact, they're working on two.
Vulture reported late last night about the rival Moses projects. One, simply called "Moses," is being developed at Warner Bros. and will be about the Old Testament hero's journey to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. It's described as "epic" and will be co-written by one of the guys responsible for "The Green Lantern" script. The other, which is being done by Fox, is known currently as "Untitled Moses Project" and has a script by Bill Collage and Adam Cooper, who would very much like you to forget that they wrote "New York Minute," the Olsen twins' comedy.
We haven't had a good-old-fashioned competing-movies battle in quite a while. The late-'90s were the real glory days of this sort of thing, what with our rival volcano movies ("Dante's Peak" and "Volcano") and dueling killer-asteroid flicks ("Deep Impact" and "Armageddon"). The closest thing we've had in recent years were competing Truman Capote movies and dual depictions of jailed D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff: Not exactly what you'd call box-office dynamite.
With the sword-and-sandal genre suddenly more popular thanks to "300" and "Clash of the Titans," it's understandable that producers are looking for the next film starring guys in tunics. But presuming that these rival Moses films will both be action spectacles, what will be really interesting is how Hollywood will balance between popcorn audiences who'll just want Moses to kick a lot of butt and religious viewers who will surely object loudly to any creative liberties taken with the original story. These two projects will have to contend with the worries of the faithful -- not to mention all the people who will think it's blasphemy for anyone to try to take Charlton Heston's place.