Evan Almighty
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Evan Almighty

Evan Almighty
Evan almightymp1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tom Shadyac
Produced by
Screenplay by Steve Oedekerk
Story by
Based on Characters
by Steve Koren
Mark O'Keefe
Starring
Music by John Debney
Cinematography Ian Baker
Edited by Scott Hill
Production
company
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • June 22, 2007 (2007-06-22)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $175 million
Box office $173.4 million

Evan Almighty is a 2007 American fantasy disaster comedy film and the stand-alone sequel and spin-off of Bruce Almighty (2003). The film was directed by Tom Shadyac, written by Steve Oedekerk, based on the characters created by Steve Koren and Mark O'Keefe from the original film, and starring Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham and John Goodman.

Production of the film began in January 2006. Several visual effect companies were used to provide CGI for the numerous animals and the climactic flood scene. The main plot is a modern-day retelling of Noah's Ark. By the time the film had completed production, it had become the most expensive comedy film ever at the time; it was later overtaken by Men in Black 3. In October 2007, the film was released on DVD and HD DVD.

The film grossed less than its budget of $175 million worldwide, and received generally negative reviews.[1][2]Evan Almighty was also notable for allegations that the many animals used in the film were treated poorly, but Universal Pictures stressed that the animals' conditions were acceptable.

Plot

Newly elected to Congress, former local television news reporter Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) leaves his hometown of Buffalo, New York and later moves to the fictional community of Prestige Crest, Virginia, where his congressional campaign officially declares that he will change the world. Evan prays to God (Morgan Freeman) to give him this opportunity. His wife, Joan (Lauren Graham), also prays that she, Evan and their three sons Dylan (Johnny Simmons), Jordan (Graham Phillips) and Ryan (Jimmy Bennett) will be closer together as a family. On his first day in Congress, Evan receives a letter from his greedy boss, Chuck Long (John Goodman), who provides him with a prime office, his three congressional staffers Rita Daniels ((Wanda Sykes) Marty Stringer (John Michael Higgins) and Eugene Tennanbaum (Jonah Hill), and the opportunity to join Long as the junior co-sponsor to his Citizens' Integration of Public Lands Act (CINPLAN) bill. Over the next several days, strange events in Evan's life occur:

  1. Eight vacant lots in Prestige Crest are purchased under his name, and ancient tools and gopher wood are delivered there.
  2. Animals start follow Evan around even into Congress.
  3. He uncontrollably starts growing a beard that would never go away no matter how many times he shaves.
  4. The number 614 starts appearing throughout his daily routines.

Evan comes to realize that this number actually refers to the verse in the Book of Genesis, where God instructs Noah to build an Ark in preparation for a flood. Although Evan initially rejects this idea, God himself starts appearing to Evan in various guises, assuring him a flood is coming and the only way Evan can save the world will be to save his community instead. Evan himself decides to start building the ark with the tools and materials provided, giving him an opportunity to get closer to his sons, though Joan sees this as a mid-life crisis.

Although Evan still maintains his career in Congress, his appearance and the animals that keep following him start to become very disruptive. God reappears and provides Evan a robe, though warns him the flood will come mid-day on September 22. When Evan dons the robe, he finds he is unable to wear any other clothes, the robe seemingly displacing anything else he wears. Outraged by Evan's slothful appearance, Long fires him and his name is removed from the Public Land Act bill. Evan suspects God had him fired to spend more time on the ark, and continues to do so, becoming a public spectacle and of ridicule. Believing that Evan has gone insane, Joan leaves him, although she encounters God in disguise as a waiter at a diner. After hearing her concern about Evan's mental state, God assures Joan that she should see this as an opportunity for the entire family to get closer to each other. Joan is inspired and finally returns to help Evan finish the ark to prepare for the flood.

As September 22 nears, many people have come out to support Evan's project, including the staffers he had. One shows Evan researches that he had found on Long, specifically that he had planned to build Prestige Crest after damming off a nearby water source, but Long had cut many corners in building the dam. The staffers suspect Long would do the same with the Public Land Act Bill. On September 22, with the ark complete, the police try to destroy the ark with a wrecking ball, as it violates land codes. As animals start to amass near the ark, and rain falls, Evan realizes that the flood will be a result of Long's dam failing, destroying Prestige Crest. He warns the onlookers to either evacuate or get aboard the ark as he loads his entire family and the gathered animals aboard. The dam indeed breaks, destroying all the houses of Prestige Crest, but Evan's foresight saves all the lives there. The ark later floods the streets of Washington D.C. and comes to its final destination in front of the Capitol during the controversial vote of the Public Land Act Bill, interrupting it. This results in Evan accusing Long's cost-cutting for the dam's failure, leading to several other members of Congress voting against the bill.

Long is being put under investigation for his profiteering and ethics, while all the animals are returned to their natural habitats. Evan is finally reinstated in Congress, all the changes forced on him by God no longer remaining. Evan re-encounters God during the hike, and expresses concern that he did not need to build the ark to show the problem with Long's dam, but God retorts that Evan's life is now perfect as he prayed for, being closer to his family and having changed the world for the better through his one Act of Random Kindness (ARK). During the film's closing credits, God issues a new commandment to the outgoing audience: "Thou shalt do the dance." This is later followed by a footage depicting the film's cast and crew members dancing to C+C Music Factory's hit song "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)."

Cast

Production

Screenplay

The film's screenplay was originally titled The Passion of the Ark and was written by Bobby Florsheim and Josh Stolberg.[3] It became the subject of a seven-studio bidding war in April 2004. The script was sold to Sony Pictures in a deal worth $2,500,000 plus a percentage of the profits, a record for a spec script from previously unproduced writers.[4]Universal Studios immediately made a deal to co-produce the script with Sony and have Steve Oedekerk rewrite it into the sequel to Bruce Almighty. Steve Oedekerk had been involved with Bruce Almighty as an executive producer and co-writer of the screenplay (with Steve Koren and Mark O'Keefe, who wrote the story). The studio later discarded the original The Passion of the Ark script completely, and Oedekerk fashioned a new script from scratch (only he received final credit on the finished film as screenwriter). Jim Carrey was asked to reprise his role as Bruce in the sequel and, when he declined, director Tom Shadyac convinced Steve Carell to accept the leading role.[5] Shadyac, reflecting on the first film, stated "[Carell] delivered some of the funniest stuff in the movie. We thought, 'Why not take that character and spin him off into a different film?'"[6]

Casting

Jim Carrey declined to reprise his role from the original Bruce Almighty. Although Carrey did act in a sequel to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, he has said that he is "not a big fan of doing the same character twice."[7] This marked the third time a sequel has been made to a film for which Carrey declined to reprise his role; the other being Dumb and Dumberer and Son of the Mask.

Budget

The initial budget, at approximately $140 million, led Evan Almighty to become the most expensive comedy film ever made. Added costs such as set construction, visual effects, and problems with filming multiple animals in a controlled location brought the budget up to $175 million.[8] Once marketing for the film was also included, the film's entire budget was estimated to be around $200 million.[9] The ballooning budget caused Sony to drop the project and hand it over entirely to Universal Studios.[8] Part of the budget was Carell's payroll, where he earned a reported $5 million for his leading role.[7] The Virginia Film Office estimates the film brought $20-25 million to Virginia, with the majority of it in the Charlottesville area.[10]

Ark design and construction

The ark being prepared for filming a scene

Construction of the ark began in January 2006 and the scenes involving the ark were shot in a Crozet, Virginia subdivision called Old Trail.[6] The ark was designed to meet the actual measurements of the biblical ark, measuring 450 feet (137 m) long, 80 feet (24 m) wide, and 51 feet (16 m) high.[7] The ark's layout was also based on pictures in several children's books that crew members had read in their childhoods.[6] When the characters were filmed during the day building the ark or were on location elsewhere, crew members would further construct the ark at night.[6] A concrete base was built to support the weight of the large ark; after filming was completed, the ark was taken down in a week, and the base in another week.[6]

In disassembling the set, everything that was salvageable from the ark was donated to Habitat for Humanity. "Leave no trace" was the slogan used by the director as part of the DVD's bonus features, "The Almighty Green Set".

Costumes and filming locations

The fully constructed ark is at the center of the image with a downcast sky. A large ramp on the left side of the image is leading up into the ark. In the foreground of the image is a paved street.
The Ark used for filming was located in Crozet, Virginia.
Evan and God sitting in the half-built Ark. Research was done to give Evan's costume an authentic, ancient look.[6] Some controversy focused on God being portrayed in human form.[11]

To create Evan's beard and long hair, three designers would take three hours each day adding individual hairs using prosthetic adhesive and making Carell wear custom wigs. The wigs consisted of both human and yak hair.[12] With his new look, Carell was sometimes nicknamed "Mountain Man", "Retrosexual", or "Unabomber."[12] For his costumes, designers spoke with textile experts, researched historical information on the clothing that was likely worn at the time of Noah, and used aged fibers for the clothing.[6]

Scenes for the film were filmed in various locations in Virginia, including areas in and around Crozet, Waynesboro, Richmond, Charlottesville, and Staunton, though some filming did take place at Universal Studios in Hollywood, California.[13]

Effects

For the CGI used throughout the film, companies Rhythm & Hues (R&H) and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) developed different parts of the film. R&H focused on the animation of the animals, while ILM completed the final scene of the ark rushing through Washington D.C.[14] Lindy De Quattro, the ILM associate visual effects supervisor, revealed that "This is the first time where we had to do a whole series of shots that were happening mid-day, where you were going to get a really long look at the water and what it was doing."[14] The company initially experienced problems creating the water effects and had to develop new tools which would choreograph the movements of the water. In addition, ILM used similar tools that were used on their prior film Poseidon.[14]Lighting was also an issue as the characters on the ark had been filmed on a greenscreen stage, and the visual effects company had to ensure that the lighting matched that of the characters and the outside setting. Details were added to the ark for long-distance shots to make the design of the ark more appealing and relate the ark's size to scale in comparison to the amount of water. To complete the scene, ILM used thirty to sixty crew members and produced 200 shots over a yearlong period between April 2006 and May 2007.[14]

Signage on a lamppost in downtown Waynesboro, Virginia for Evan Almighty filming.

Rhythm & Hues created 300 pairs of animals for use on the ark and fifteen pairs with higher detail for closeup shots.[6] R&H was also assisted by C.I.S. Hollywood, another visual effects company, who provided a large number of composites, involving hundreds of greenscreen animal elements.[6] In scenes where there are multiple species of animals, crew members would film the animals on the greenscreen and R&H and C.I.S would digitally add the animals one at a time, sometimes taking several weeks to a couple of months. Andy Arnett, the animation supervisor, declared that "The research was extensive. It took six or seven months to perfect the look and feel of the animals before we had the first shot out the door."[6]

For the scene in Congressman Long's office, CGI was used the entire time for the fish that follow Evan around from the fish tank. Cafe FX, the visual effects company hired for the scene, ordered ten different kinds of tropical fish from a local store and studied their movements to imitate them on screen using computer animation. Jeff Goldman, the visual effects supervisor, stated "Early in the sequence, we mimicked the actual behavior of the fish in our animation, but as the scene plays out, the fish are a counterpoint to Steve Carell's comedic timing."[15]

Marketing

In late May during production, the media learned that director Tom Shadyac angrily complained to producers, saying "I'm not seeing any ads, and I don't know why. I'm not getting answers. People are giving me information that isn't true...I'm only hearing about all the other summer movies, and nothing about mine."[16] Shadyac also fired his marketing consultants that he had used for prior films due to his thoughts over the mishandling of the marketing. He later apologized for his outburst with producers, and claimed that it was as a result of his nervousness before the film's release.[17]

Grace Hill Media, a marketing firm that targets religious Americans, held exclusive screenings of the film in mid-June in fifty cities in the United States to reach religious moviegoers.[17] The firm was also used for marketing Bruce Almighty, The Da Vinci Code, and The Passion of the Christ.[18] Grace Hill provided free screenings to blogs in exchange for publicity on the blogs.[18] The film and its subsequent home video release was marketed to Christians and their churches through a "kindness campaign" called Ark ALMIGHTY.[19][20]

The first trailer of the film premiered on March 29, 2007 for a marathon of The Office, which also stars Steve Carell and Ed Helms.[21] For online advertising, an eight-minute clip of a scene was released on Yahoo! two days before the release of the film.[22] The premiere for the film was held on June 10, 2007 and guests included Adam Sandler, David Hasselhoff, Kate Flannery, Eddie Murphy, Kevin James, and Mindy Kaling, among others.[23]

Environmental impact

Director Tom Shadyac felt the film reflected environmental themes of how humans are stewards of God's creation. In keeping with the themes, Evan Almighty became NBC Universal's first film to offset the production's carbon emissions.[24] Producer Michael Bostick revealed how the emissions were offset:

We worked closely with The Conservation Fund to calculate our carbon emissions from what we used on the movie--whether from vehicles used or any of the construction equipment. Once our carbon emissions were calculated, we planted trees that will effectively zero out our climate-changing footprint left behind from the movie.[6]

Shadyac accomplished this by requiring crew members to plant 2,050 trees at the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Warsaw, Virginia and the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge near Modesto, California.[6] He also bought over 400 bikes for all the cast and crew, to get to work instead of driving.[25] In addition, rather than simply demolishing sets, Shadyac tried to donate houses built for the production and had the Ark set recycled, by donating materials to Habitat for Humanity.[24] During the premiere of the film for cast and crew at Universal Citywalk, the attendees were encouraged to donate to a campaign to plant trees in forests around the world. The after party used recycled cups and plates to offset the use of resources.[26] Shadyac also required that when Industrial Light & Magic developed the climactic scene, that the CGI flood did not appear to harm any of the trees in the scene.[14]

The film partnered with the website Get On Board Now,[27] which focused on the importance of conservation during production of the film. Donations were taken at the website for The Conservation Fund, which paid for the planting of 15,000 trees.[24]

Animal welfare

Two Asian elephants are at the center of the image, side-by-side. Two men on opposite sides (holding thin, metal poles) are guiding the elephants through orange cones on the dirt ground. In the background is grass and trees and an overcast sky.
Two elephants being trained for filming

The American Humane Association oversaw the 177 species of animals that were used in the film.[6] In scenes including both predators and prey, the animals were digitally added instead to ensure their safety.[28] The American Humane Association gave its permission for the film to display "No animals were harmed in the making of this movie" over the closing credits.[29]

Animal rights organization PETA accused the film's producers of using animals that had previously been abused. Two chimpanzees who appear in the movie, Cody and Sable, were surrendered by their owner to settle a lawsuit that documented allegations of beatings and mistreatment.[30] The film's director, Tom Shadyac, said of PETA's criticisms "They're not wrong. There's a certain amount of hypocrisy whenever you work with animals, even to show, which we hope we're showing, that respect of all of God's creation...I don't know. I respect their criticism."[31] PETA was also critical of Birds & Animals Unlimited, the primary animal supplier to the film, for alleged serious and continuing violations of the U.S. Animal Welfare Act, including failure to comply with veterinary care requirements and failure to provide shelter from heat and sunlight, which PETA details and claims it can document.[32] A Universal Studios spokesperson declared:

The live animals used in the filming of Evan Almighty were supplemented by a great number of computer-generated animals, but it would have been impossible to depend on CGI exclusively as some key scenes in the film demonstrate the need for peaceful and productive co-existence between man and animals. One of the most prominent, inescapable messages of the film is the responsibility that humans have to protect and care for animals.[33]

Release

Home media

The film was released on HD DVD and DVD on October 9, 2007[34] and was the fourth-most rented DVD of the week earning $6.4 million.[35] In the film's first six weeks of release it earned $27,676,676 in domestic DVD sales.[36] The HD-DVD and DVD's special features include deleted scenes, outtakes, cast interviews, and footage of the animals used in the film. The film was released on Blu-ray on August 7, 2012.

Proposed ban

Malaysia's Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) called for a ban on the film, claiming it is offensive to Islam. Secretary-General Maamor Osman claimed that the film was depicting the great flood as comedy and characterized God with the portrayal of a human, both of which are considered blasphemous in Islam. Similarly there was some public protest against Bruce Almighty being shown in theaters, but that movie was released on DVD and was also shown on television broadcasts. Evan Almighty was still released in Malaysia on August 23, 2007.[11]

Reception

Critical release

Evan Almighty received generally negative reviews from critics and viewers. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 23%, based on 192 reviews, with the critical consensus reading, "Big on special effects but short on laughs, Evan Almighty underutilizes a star-studded cast that includes Steve Carell and Morgan Freeman."[1] At the website Metacritic, which utilizes a normalized rating system, the film earned a score of 37 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[2]

In his review of the film, Richard Roeper commended Jim Carrey for declining to reprise his role in "three of the worst sequels of all time", which included Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, Son of the Mask and Evan Almighty. He continued: "Evan Almighty is a paper-thin alleged comedy with a laugh drought of biblical proportions, and a condescendingly simplistic spiritual message."[37]

Several reviewers credit Carell's performance to significantly improving the humor of the film.[38][39] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone declared the film the year's Worst Epic on his list of the Worst Movies of 2007.[40] Before Evan Almighty was released, it was nominated for "Best Summer Movie You Haven't Seen Yet" at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. Competing against seven other nominees, it lost to Transformers.[41] According to box office figures, the film is the second highest-grossing film about "Supernatural Comedies with Religious Elements" according to Box Office Mojo, directly behind Bruce Almighty.[42]Evan Almighty was nominated for one Razzie Award, Worst Prequel or Sequel (lost to Daddy Day Camp).

Box office

Though Evan Almighty was hyped up, especially with churchgoers,[43][44] and had double the budget of Bruce Almighty, it performed under expectations. On its first weekend, it opened in 5,200 screens in 3,604 theaters and earned $31.1 million[45] (on its first two days the film earned $11.4 million followed by $8.3 million on Sunday).[43] The opening was less than half of the first film's $68 million weekend ($85 million counting Memorial Day).[9] Nikki Rocco, the president of distribution for Universal Pictures declared, "We never expected it to be much higher...it is not unusual for family films to open at a level like this and build. This film will have legs."[9] The film managed to remain at the third spot at the box office in its second week, before dropping to fifth place in its third week.[46]

Internationally, the film also opened in first place in Russia and Ukraine, earning $1.5 million in Russia with 329 venues and $179,000 in Ukraine at 64 locations. The gross in the opening weekends for the two countries was 10% and 11%, respectively, bigger than the opening for Bruce Almighty.[43] Altogether, the film has earned $173,391,888 worldwide with $100,462,298 in the U.S. and $72,929,590 in the international box office.[47]

Soundtrack

Evan Almighty: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released July 3, 2007
Genre Country, rock, CCM, dance
Label Curb Records
Producer Adam Anders, Matt Bronleewe, D.J. Butcher, Mike Curb, Chuck Howard, Dann Huff, Doug Johnson, Hal Ketchum, Jo Dee Messina, Kathy Nelson, Eric Pittarelli, Tom Shadyac
Singles from Evan Almighty
  1. "Ready for a Miracle"
    Released: 2007
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic2/5 stars[48]

Evan Almighty: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture debuted in 2007.[49] The soundtrack debuted on June 19, 2007.[50] "Revolution" was performed by Rascal Flatts in the film.[51] Their version is not on the soundtrack, but it appears as a bonus track on their album Still Feels Good.[52] Also not included on the soundtrack are Elton John's 2006 hit, "Just Like Noah's Ark" of which only a little bit is heard during the start of building the ark, and John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change", used in the main ark-building montage. "Ready For a Miracle" was released as a single for the soundtrack by American country pop recording artist, LeAnn Rimes.

Rascal Flatts' version of "Revolution" peaked at number 57 on the Hot Country Songs charts,[52] and "The Power of One" by Bomshel reached number 52 on the same.[53]

No.TitleRecording artist(s)Length
1."Ready for a Miracle"LeAnn Rimes3:36
2."One Love"Jo Dee Messina3:53
3."Have You Ever Seen the Rain?"John Fogerty2:47
4."Walk on Water"Blue County3:50
5."Spirit in the Sky" (with Mikeschair)Plumb3:24
6."The Power of One"Bomshel4:33
7."Be the Miracle"Room for Two2:17
8."God Makes Stars"Hal Ketchum3:03
9."This Land Is Your Land"The Mike Curb Congregation3:16
10."Never Give Up"Tracy Edmond4:00
11."Revolution"Blue County4:17
12."Revolution"Stone Temple Pilots3:39
13."Sharp Dressed Man"Jo Dee Messina3:49
14."Sharp Dressed Man"ZZ Top4:15
15."Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)"C+C Music Factory4:07
16."Have You Ever Seen The Rain?"Creedence Clearwater Revival2:41
  • Note: Tracks one, two and fourteen to sixteen are taken from the film while tracks three through thirteen are inspired by the film.[54]

Accolades

In 2008, the soundtrack was nominated for a Dove Award for Special Event Album of the Year at the 39th GMA Dove Awards. The song "Be the Miracle" by Room for Two was also nominated for Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year while "Ready for a Miracle" by LeAnn Rimes won the Dove Award for Traditional Gospel Recorded Song of the Year.[55]

References

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  20. ^ Ark ALMIGHTY, a "kindness campaign" that was part of the promotion of the film
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  48. ^ Monger, James Christopher. "Evan Almighty (Soundtrack)". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009. 
  49. ^ "Evan Almighty: Various Artists: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011. 
  50. ^ Black, Holly. "Evan Almighty: John Debney: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011. 
  51. ^ Mansfield, Brian (September 28, 2007). "Young fans keep Rascal Flatts humming". USA Today. Archived from the original on June 8, 2011. 
  52. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 339. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 
  53. ^ Whitburn, p. 54
  54. ^ Evan Almighty: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture (CD). Various Artists. Curb Records. 2007. D2-79013. 
  55. ^ Nominations Announced for 39th GMA Dove Awards on CBN.com (February 14, 2008)

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