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3 YEARS

Warners Rejects Joe Eszterhas' Screenplay for Mel Gibson's Maccabee Project

The controversial project about the Jewish warrior is on hold as the studio mulls its next move.

Mel Gibson
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Warner Bros. has put Mel Gibson's movie about the biblical figure Judah Maccabee on hold after rejecting the screenplay written by Joe Eszterhas, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

The project made waves in September when it was set up as a pitch with Eszterhas, the writer behind Basic Instinct and Showgirls, set to pen the script. Gibson, who plans to produce through his Icon Productions, was waiting for the screenplay to be completed to decide whether he would either direct or act in the project.

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Maccabee led a revolt in the second century B.C. against a Greek-Macedonian state. The Hanukkah holiday is tied to the revolt’s victory. But Gibson's involvement drew criticism from prominent Jewish leaders like Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who accused his 2004 film The Passion of the Christ of promoting anti-Semitism.

The script for the Maccabee movie was submitted to the studio this week but was rejected by execs, according to sources.

Insiders at the studio say the project isn’t dead or officially shelved at this stage, but it is under review. The studio has not yet decided whether to move forward with more development or a pull the plug.