Religulous v Expelled: A simple comparison

| 66 Comments

After 20 days, Religulous has grossed more than Expelled during its six months in US theatres.

TitleLifetime GrossTheatresOpening GrossTheatres
Religulous $9,201,458 568 $3,409,643 502
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed $7,720,487 1,052 $2,970,848 1,052

Funny how despite give aways, pre-screenings and discounts, and much marketing to the religious, Expelled did not manage to attract more audience than Religulous. What is even more ironic is that Religulous outperformed Expelled from the opening weekend with half the theatre count.

From the Director of Borat, Larry Charles, the studio that brought us Fahrenheit 9/11 and Comedian Bill Maher comes a hilarious comedy which allows us to look into a mirror and smile at ourselves.

His “Religulous,” directed by Larry Charles, is an entertaining, funny, angry, thought-provoking journey from the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Via Dolorosa, the Qumran Caves, to Stonehenge, Habibi Ana (and a Moslem Gay bar), the Vatican, the Holy Land Experience Park in Florida, the U.S. Capitol, Mormon Tabernacle, and many others.

Everywhere, Maher is asking a few simple questions: What do you believe, why, and how can you possibly…? Half Catholic, half Jewish, and fully agnostic, Maher is incredulous, in every sense of the word, but curiously warm and gentle asking questions about the “the final battle between intelligence and stupidity that will decide the future of humanity.”

Source: IMDB Author Janos451 from San Francisco

Watch the trailer.

66 Comments

Expelled is now on Netflix watch instantly. I hope Religulous becomes available to those of us who aren’t going to see it locally. (the local theater owner here is a bit biased in what she shows…)

I saw it, and it was excellent. Bill Maher’s interview with Ken Ham was interesting. Ham seemed to be on guard and not his usual blustering arrogant self. Bill Maher’s interviewing technique is very interesting to watch.

But sadly, “Fireproof”, the latest piece of Christian propaganda from IDiot Kirk Cameron is a big hit. Sigh…

And yet despire the overwhelming evidence that Religulous outperformed Expelled, some insist otherwise. What is it with these self-loathing atheists?

Excellent movie! Go see it if you can find a theater its playing in. There were very few around me and I live in a major city :(

Eh. I’m not completely comfortable with comparing the two movies (although I made the same comparison in a blog post a few days ago). One is an attack on science, the other is not a defense of science but an attack on religion. They aren’t really analogous.

Also, Maher was at a number of points very sloppy. For example, he repeated uncritically a number of claimed similarities between Mithra, Horus and Jesus that are heavily disputed by scholars. Overall, he made a good, amusing case for his thesis but he seriously weakened it with poor scholarship and borderline intellectual dishonesty.

Joshua Zellinsky said:

Overall, he made a good, amusing case for his thesis but he seriously weakened it with poor scholarship and borderline intellectual dishonesty.

I haven’t seen it, but although it might well be amusing, it would be hard to ignore the fact that Maher conducted interviews under an alias and false pretenses – a trick that EXPELLED pulled on Dawkins and Myers & etc. and was loudly denounced as crude and fraudulent. “Well the OTHER guy did it so it’s OK!”

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

But sadly, “Fireproof”, the latest piece of Christian propaganda from IDiot Kirk Cameron is a big hit. Sigh…

Bigger thsn “Religulous”, according to Christianity Today Online.

(Insert huge smile here!)

FL

Science Avenger said:

And yet despire the overwhelming evidence that Religulous outperformed Expelled, some insist otherwise. What is it with these self-loathing atheists?

Why did I know the link was to “Framing Science” before I even clicked it? *sigh* Guys, sometimes a win is a win!

It’s worth noting that it would make no difference to intellectual value whether Religulous had done worse and Expelled had done better. The reviews count for more, and content for even more. I’m not sure that Religulous actually has much value content-wise, although it has better reviews than Expelled.

That said, the IDiots had latched onto the single metric in which they had done relatively well (at least compared with other documentaries in theaters), the number of butts in theater seats. So this is great, the only thing they had to brag about, the #1 ranking in 2008 documentaries, is now down the toilet.

Like I said, such numbers mean nothing vis-a-vis value. But they can’t throw that argument around regardless of its truth, since for so long they had crowed about being #1 in viewership. It’s a pathetic metric for worth, but they may as well admit that, by their “standards,” Religulous (which they hate) is the better movie.

It just goes to show that ID will latch onto anything to claim victory, so they may as well eat crow now for pretending that the numbers relate anything regarding a movie’s value.

Glen D

http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

as much as i like the movie i wish i could say Bill Maher was someone i liked too. however PETA does put a horrible awful taste in my mouth. make no mistake PETA is just as bad as any creationists or religious group, it is just his personal beliefs too. after having to deal with that lot i can’t really say whom i would rather deal with, a creationist or a member of PETA?

PETA and their ilk caused a number of problems for us, a small herpetology study group, a few years back in dayton ohio. they helped push through an exotic pet ban. however only after putting spin on a recent death and having fringe groups release wild and potentially dangerous animals like bears and alligators in public places. after all they had money and lawyers, we had a dozen members and knowledge. who do you think won? One of our exotic animal rescues was even shut down because part of the ban restricted rescue operations. don’t worry set the new one up at the county line to run it in. PETA does not care for animals, only their world view much like the creationists.

due to PETA i can’t really trust Bill.

Glen Davidson said: That said, the IDiots had latched onto the single metric in which they had done relatively well (at least compared with other documentaries in theaters), the number of butts in theater seats.

[A quibble: technically we’re all talking about gross, not number of viewers. Though they probably correlate reasonably well.]

Were I a conservative, fundamentalist christian, I would never try and argue that gross sales reflect either public acceptance or ideological success. Sure, that argument helps in the case of Expelled. But it hurts you practically everywhere else. One look at the list of top grossing documentaries of all time will show you why.

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/genres[…]umentary.htm

There’s a strong liberal lean. Not to mention a couple of nature documentaries that have a decidedly agnostic or secular bent. Its amusing to think that, if gross measures public opinion, there are almost exactly ten times more “penguinists” than ID proponents. :)

Well, Bill Mahar fits well with PETA, both are sexist…

I saw Religulous on opening weekend, and it was downright hilarious, some of the things the interviewees said were jaw-droppingly shocking, but I would have to say from a film-standpoint, it was very awkwardly edited together. The end of the interview was stuck in the middle of an interview, for example, and there didn’t seem to be a point to that. I recommend it, though.

Some commenters say Religulous is “excellent.” I cannot agree. I enjoyed the movie, I found it amusing and entertaining, but it falls short of excellence in several ways.

Cinematically, Religulous is not great film-making. Do you recall what Richard Dawkins said about Expelled? That it has a lot of “Lord Privy Seal” in it? So does Religulous.

Intellectually, Religulous is no great shakes, and it sometimes uses questionable sources. For example, Maher interviews an “ex-gay” minister and counselor, who insists that homosexuality is sin, not identity. Flash to a snippet of Maher interviewing Dean Hamer, who claims to have discovered the “gay gene,” a discovery that is not widely recognized for its soundness amongst geneticists.

See it. Enjoy it. But please stop claiming it is “excellent.”

But sadly, “Fireproof”, the latest piece of Christian propaganda from IDiot Kirk Cameron is a big hit. Sigh…

Bigger than “Religulous”, according to Christianity Today Online.

Since Fireproof is not being marketed as a documentary, I do not see why the two films should be compared.

Great to see FL is happy that Kirk Cameron’s nonsesne is doing well.

I saw a clip of Kirk on the Bill O’Really? show, and he held up a picture of a duck with an allgator head and wondered why, if evolution is true, we never see one of those…

Stupid is as stupid does.

Joshua Zellinsky said:

Eh. I’m not completely comfortable with comparing the two movies (although I made the same comparison in a blog post a few days ago). One is an attack on science, the other is not a defense of science but an attack on religion. They aren’t really analogous.

Linking the two plays right into the propaganda of the creationism campaign, and does nothing for advancing science education. Portraying defense of science education as an atheistic agenda is misleading, and unhelpful.

Science Avenger said:

And yet despire the overwhelming evidence that Religulous outperformed Expelled, some insist otherwise.

Yes, but Professor Nisbet does have nice hair…

I think we atheists tend to get overly excited whenever there is something in the media that challenges credulous beliefs, simply because it is so rare, and thus sounds so refreshing to us. And before anyone goes all war-against-Christmas on me and starts talking about all the Christian villians in the films, do note that the vast majority of the time it is noble believers, not noble nonbelievers, who play the heros in such tales. The unrepentent, rational, moral atheist is virtually nonexistent, so we’ll take a flawed one if we can get it.

I saw “Religulous” in downtown Seattle, a place not normally subject to selectivity being practiced by movie theatres. I could not help thinking throughout the movie that you can draw parallels with “Expelled”. There was no doubt a similar stretching of the truth, sleight of hand, etc, which exposes it to the same kind of criticism that “Expelled” got. Also, “Religulous” was very heavy handed - it gave no quarter at all. Maher did a great job of making some fundemetalists look pretty stupid, but then poured it on, in my opinion, to the point of making me a bit uncomfortable. Still - I agree that the movie is a pretty effective retaliatory strike for a group that seldom fights out. And it was highly entertaining which is why I go to the movies.

I agree with James Wheaton’s comment - a lot of Maher’s claims seem pretty questionable, and at times seemed quite reminiscent of Expelled/ID-level tactics. For example, I’ve seen the Mithras/Horus/Dionysus/Jesus comparisons being thrown around many different times, both on the internet and in this film, but never seen it backed up by solid references or sources as to where these comparisons can be verified.

Also, the nutcase element are fairly easy targets, I doubt Maher would have had the same success against a decent religious scholar or philosopher for example (although I suppose a purpose of the film is to generate laughs as much as anything else). I’d also agree with Glen that box office numbers for a documentary don’t mean much in terms of truth or not.

Isn’t this why the comparison is so ironically relevant :-)

I would also like to know more about the facts and figures stated in Religulous. The 16% of the U.S. population’s “non-religious” from the Pew survey, for example, includes 1.6% and 2.4% who self-identify as atheists and agnostics, respectively, with the majority simply checking off “nothing [i.e. no religion] in particular.” I would bet that a good number of these 12% are effectively agnostics, but I think Maher is too quick to lump them into that camp. Just cite the source more accurately and be done with it, the point is still made.

As for the “Lord Privy Seals,” I found them to be laugh-out-loud funny for the most part. Scarface, anyone? The other on-screen asides were used effectively as well, like the “text message” sent to the Muslim cleric. “LOL :)”

Just a quick correction: Some of the above comments are implying that Bill Maher is an atheist, but this isn’t true. On his Daily Show interview, he made it very clear that he’s an agnostic, NOT an atheist.

I would probably not like either film, but hope to watch both some day. This comment however, is a warning that my local talk radio station just started playing ads for “Expelled” DVDs, and is even giving them away to callers. The station features the Medved show, so it’s no surprise. Of course the ads give no time, let alone “equal time,” to the inconvenient facts that (1) nearly all biologists, religious or not, disagree with its outrageous claims, and (2) some prominent Christian critics of ID/creationism were deliberately left out of the film because they would (in the producers’ own words) “complicate” it.

Frank J,

(2) some prominent Christian critics of ID/creationism were deliberately left out of the film because they would (in the producers’ own words) “complicate” it.

I wonder if that complication would be irreducible? :D

Henry

FL said:

But sadly, “Fireproof”, the latest piece of Christian propaganda from IDiot Kirk Cameron is a big hit. Sigh…

Bigger thsn “Religulous”, according to Christianity Today Online.

(Insert huge smile here!)

FL

I looked up the Fireproof movie online and found this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fireproof_(film)

In a scene towards the end when Kirk Cameron’s character kisses his wife, it was shot in shadow, and the actress, Erin Bethea, was replaced by Cameron’s real-life wife, Chelsea Noble, disguised to look like Bethea.[8] This was done because Cameron does not believe that as a Christian he should kiss any woman other than his wife.[8]

Uh, the Bible says NOTHING about kissing a woman you are not married to while making a movie. Maybe Cameron should get out of acting altogether.

BTW, I saw that clip on the Bill O’Reilly show in which Cameron mentioned the “crocoduck”. That has to be one of the most hilarious moments in television history. An animal that is a chimera of two completely different species would be a proof of CREATIONISM, not evolution!

Box Office Mojo has a Religulous vs. Expelled showdown, with comparisons of overall, weekend and daily numbers, for those who are curious. Religulous is beating the pants off Expelled so far. Not only did it get off to a much better start in half as many theaters, but it’s got better legs, falling 35% per week compared to Expelled’s 50% drops per week:

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/showdo[…]roversus.htm

As to the trend between catholics, None , and protestants see NY Times

Fascinating trends to see protestants dropping about 10 points while none are increasing 10 points. Seems to me that the foolish position of so many protestant churches may be backfiring.

Praise the Lord. Scientific ignorance combined with religion will make the latter the loser.

“An animal that is a chimera of two completely different species would be a proof of CREATIONISM, not evolution!”

Of course it would. But that dingaling is talking to people who nod approvingly when told that a banana or a jar of peanut butter is proof of divine creation. My question is, what does a banana and peanut butter sandwich prove? Huh? Answer me that, smart guy?

What a waste of time this site is. Saying nothing! Proving nothing! Lets just change the name to the TOWER OF BABLE a source of infinite BS

trl000lal said:

What a waste of time this site is. Saying nothing! Proving nothing! Lets just change the name to the TOWER OF BABLE a source of infinite BS

Which part(s) do you find to be a waste of time?

I wasn’t particularly fond of this article either, but what about it would make you decide to condemn the entire site?

Indeed yes, as at least one previous poster notes, there is a particularly loud quality to Panda’s silence on the subject of how the Religuous interviews were obtained. Complaints were loud here on Panda about Expelled‘s tactics not long ago. For example, PZ Myers was aggrieved by the deceptive interview tactics used to make Expelled:

Why were they so dishonest about it? If Mathis had said outright that he wants to interview an atheist and outspoken critic of Intelligent Design for a film he was making about how ID is unfairly excluded from academe, I would have said, “bring it on!” … I mean, seriously, not telling one of the sides in a debate about what the subject might be and then leading him around randomly to various topics, with the intent of later editing it down to the parts that just make the points you want, is the video version of quote-mining and is fundamentally dishonest. I don’t mind sharing my views with creationists, and do so all the time. By filming under false pretenses, much like the example of the case of Richard Dawkins’ infamous “pause”, they’ve undercut their own credibility …

( http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]-m.html#more )

We also find Expelled‘s deceptive interviewing denounced at http://pandasthumb.org/archives/200[…]-2.html#more , where PvM urges that that the following material “deserves more attention”:

Allen MacNeill Wrote:

… Will Provine and I were interviewed by Mark Mathis and his crew last year. Like PZ myers, Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott and others, we were lied to about both the title of the film (they said it was “Crossroads”, not “Expelled”, for which a website domain listing was acquired several months before our interview) and the purpose of the film, which they said was to present an even-handed look at both sides of the debate.

Treating people with whom you disagree as “enemies” is the antithesis of the intellectual tradition. Just because you happen to agree with one “enemies” list and therefore eagerly participate in demonizing those with whom you disagree doesn’t absolve you of committing a heinous sin against the ancient and honorable traditions of the academy. Just the opposite, in fact. And using ad hominem arguments … are the tactics of propagandists, not scholars. Shame on Ben Stein, Mark Mathis, and their supporters, and shame on anyone who resorts to character assassination, mendacity, and subterfuge in the pursuit of what should be an argument based on reason and evidence.

I agree with every word of the above complaints. But compare them to Panda’s (particularly PvM’s) dead silence on how Religuous was filmed, even while it apparently gloats over Religuous outperforming Expelled at the box office. And we know exactly how Religuous’s interviewers were obtained: as Bill Maher helpfully explains, “It was simple: We never, ever, used my name. We never told anybody it was me who was going to do the interviews. We even had a fake title for the film. We called it ‘A Spiritual Journey.’ It didn’t work everywhere. We went to Salk Lake City, but no one would let us film there at all.”

( http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/the[…]er-hate.html )

The nasty odor of partisan double-standardship given off by Panda’s treatment of the two films could be dispelled, I think, by a hearty denunciation by PvM of Religuous as deceptively-filmed propaganda that “resorts to … subterfuge in the pursuit of what should be an argument based on reason and evidence.”

Waiting.

The nasty odor of partisan double-standardship given off by Panda’s treatment of the two films could be dispelled, I think, by a hearty denunciation by PvM of Religuous as deceptively-filmed propaganda that “resorts to … subterfuge in the pursuit of what should be an argument based on reason and evidence.”

Waiting.

You mean, it would be just like Expelled? The comparison of the two seems to become more and more appropriate.

Seems that Expelled defenders have to admit to more than they would have been prepared to do earlier.

So, given all the similarities between the two movies, the comparison seems even more warranted.

With half the theatres, the movie now grossed $11,702,533 despite being “R” rated versus “PG” for Expelled

Thanks Larry for reminding me.

Thank you, PvM, that does clear things up. It seemed to me at first that Religulous was being treated here by a different standard than the (perfectly good) one that had been applied to Expelled: I see I was mistaken, and am truly glad to be so. My apologies for misreading you as uncritical of Religulous.

Sincerely,

Larry

The writer seems to be turning around and appealing to the behaviour of the general population to ratify something here. If earning a few more dollars were reason enough to convey merit upon a production, it would be quite a disaster.

If anything, the fact that the relevant statistics of these two movies are within one order of magnitude of each other suggests to me that they have the same unfortunate thing in common.

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