Gods of Egypt

Gods of Egypt Information

Gods of Egypt is a 2016 American fantasy adventure film featuring ancient Egyptian deities. The United States-Australia production is directed by Alex Proyas and stars Brenton Thwaites, Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Chadwick Boseman, Elodie Yung, Courtney Eaton, Rufus Sewell, and Geoffrey Rush. Butler plays the god of darkness Set who takes over the Egyptian empire, and Thwaites plays the mortal hero Bek who partners with the god Horus, played by Coster-Waldau, to save the world and rescue his love.

Filming took place in Australia under the American studio Summit Entertainment. While the film's production budget was , the parent company Lionsgate's financial exposure was less than $10 million due to tax incentives and pre-sales. The Australian government provided a tax credit for 46% of the film's budget. When Lionsgate began promoting the film in November 2015, it received backlash for its predominantly white cast playing Egyptian deities. In response, Lionsgate and director Alex Proyas apologized for the lack of casting diversity.

Lionsgate released Gods of Egypt in theaters globally starting on , 2016 in 2D, RealD 3D, and IMAX 3D. It released the film in the United States, Canada, and 68 other markets on , 2016.


The film takes place in an alternate Egypt, where the world is flat and gods live among mortal humans. The Egyptian pantheon is distinguished from humans by their greater height, golden blood, and ability to transform into animal-headed deity forms.

Bek, a mortal thief, with his love Zaya are about to attend the coronation of Horus by his father king Osiris. However, during the ceremony Osiris is killed by his jealous brother Set, who seizes the throne and declares a new regime where the dead will have to pay with riches to pass into the afterlife. Horus duels Set in deity form but is overpowered, and during the chaos, Bek is separated from Zaya. Horus' lover Hathor begs for his life, so Set settles for tearing out Horus' eyes, which are the source of his power, and banishing him to the desert.

A year passes, during which Set marries Hathor and commissions a grand obelisk tower to be built in honor of his father Ra. Bek has found Zaya among the slaves building the monument, under the ownership of the chief architect Urshu. Believing that Horus is the only one who can defeat Set, she takes floorplans from Urshu's library which aid Bek in stealing one of Horus' eyes from Set's vault. However, Urshu finds out about their theft and mortally wounds Zaya as the couple flee. Bek arrives at Horus' prison, where he makes a bargain with the blinded god: one of his eyes and Bek's knowledge of how to get into Set's tower in exchange for Horus bringing Zaya back from the dead, before her spirit reaches the gate to the afterlife where she'll have no riches to pay. Horus agrees, though not telling Bek that he cannot resurrect the dead.

With only a single eye, Horus can not assume deity form. He and Bek travel to a mountain shrine to Ra to plead for his help, Ra transporting them to his divine vessel above the Earth's sky. Horus is unable to convince Ra to regrant him his power in full or to intervene and defeat Set himself, as Ra is both neutral about their conflict and daily at war with an enormous shadow beast, Apophis, that threatens to devour the world. Nevertheless, Horus obtains divine waters from Ra's vessel, which would weaken Set if poured in his shrine of eternal fire. Horus and Bek return to the mortal world, fighting off Set's warriors on the way.

Set sets out to obtain other gods' powers in order to increase his might. Having gained Horus' other eye and Osiris' heart, he confronts his former wife Nephthys and cuts off her wings for himself. Hathor attempts to divine Horus' location in secret, but Set discovers her and attempts to kill her. She escapes by removing a bracelet protecting her from the underworld's demons, which steals her from Set, into the underworld, until she puts the bracelet back on, returning Hathor to the mortal world. Eventually reaching Bek and Horus, Hathor saves them from Set's assassins Astarte and Anat and reveals to them that Set's shrine is protected by a riddling sphinx. The group heads to the library of Thoth to recruit him for help, certain that he will be wise enough to answer the sphinx's riddle.

Arriving at Set's shrine, the gods and Bek overcome its traps, including the sphinx, to reach the source of Set's power. But before they can pour the divine water in, Set intercepts them and reveals Horus' deception to Bek: that he would be unable to bring Zaya back from the dead. Set destroys their flask of divine water, steals Thoth's brain, and collapses the shrine on them. Horus saves his allies' lives with his strength, but Bek is furious at him for lying about Zaya, whose spirit is just moments away from the afterlife's judging. Hathor then sacrifices her own safety for Zaya's payment, giving up her protective bracelet to Bek and then is immediately kidnapped by the underworld's demons.

Having obtained the powers of the gods, Set travels to Ra, appealing to his father for approval. Ra claims that all of Set's prior mistreatment were tests preparing Set for his true role, taking Ra's place as the defender of the world aboard his solar barge. Set is dismayed to hear his destiny was to rule alone above the planet until he dies. He then casts Ra off the boat and decides to let Apophis consume both the mortal and immaterial realms, so that Set may create a new world where he is immortal.

Bek returns to the mortal world where Horus apologizes and the two resolve to take down Set, capturing Urshu so that he may guide them through Set's obelisk. While Set calls down Apophis on Egypt with Ra's staff, Horus battles him on the tower's peak but is heavily outmatched. However, Bek comes to his rescue and takes the other eye off of Set's armor. He throws it to Horus but falls off the obelisk, and Horus chooses to save Bek instead. This act restores Horus' power, and he battles Set until Horus brings down the obelisk and kills him. He then finds Ra and returns his staff to him, allowing Ra to once again repel Apophis.

Horus is restored as king and his other eye found and returned, but Bek has been killed. Having saved Ra, though, his grandfather repays Horus by bringing Bek and Zaya back to life. The other gods have their attributes restored, and Horus is crowned king and declares the afterlife will be open to the good doers of the world. Bek is made chief advisor, and he gives Horus back the bracelet, letting Horus rescue Hathor from the underworld.


  • Brenton Thwaites as Bek
  • Gerard Butler as Set
  • Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Horus
  • Chadwick Boseman as Thoth
  • Elodie Yung as Hathor
  • Courtney Eaton as Zaya
  • Rufus Sewell as Urshu
  • Geoffrey Rush as Ra
  • Bryan Brown as Osiris
  • Rachael Blake as Isis
  • Emma Booth as Nephthys
  • Alexander England as Mnevis
  • Goran D. Kleut as Anubis
  • Yaya Deng as Astarte
  • Abbey Lee as Anat
  • Kenneth Ransom as Sphinx

Racial and ethnic casting

White actors make up most of the principal cast of Gods of Egypt. When Lionsgate began marketing the film, the Associated Press said the distributor received backlash for "ethnically inaccurate casting". Lionsgate and director Alex Proyas both issued apologies. The AP said, "While some praised the preemptive mea culpa... others were more skeptical, concluding that it's simply meant to shut down any further backlash."

The casting practice of white actors as Egyptian characters was first reported after filming started in March 2014, when Daily Lifes Ruby Hamad highlighted the practice as "Hollywood whitewashing". Lionsgate released a set of character posters in November 2015, and The Guardian reported that the casting received a backlash on Twitter over the predominantly white cast. Some suggested that the casting of black actor Chadwick Boseman, who plays the god Thoth, played into the Magical Negro stereotype. The previous year, the biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings by director Ridley Scott received similar backlash for having a white cast. The Washington Post's Soraya Nadia McDonald also disparaged the casting practice for Gods of Egypt and said Lionsgate released the posters at an unfortunate time. She said with the release of Aziz Ansari's TV series Master of None in the previous week, "Whitewashed casting and the offensiveness of brownface has pretty much dominated the pop culture conversation this week. Promotion for the movie is beginning just as we're wrapping a banner year for discussions of diversity and gender pay equity in the film industry."

When Lionsgate followed its release of posters with a release of a theatrical trailer, Scott Mendelson at Forbes said almost none of the actors, aside from potentially Butler, qualified as box office draws. BET's Evelyn Diaz said while Ridley Scott had defended his casting practice for Exodus by claiming the need to cast box office draws, "Gods of Egypt is headlined by character actors and Gerard Butler, none of whom will have people running to the theater on opening day." Deadlines Ross A. Lincoln said of the released trailer, "Casting here stands out like a sore thumb leftover from 1950s Hollywood. I suspect this film generates a lot of conversation before it hits theaters February 26, 2016."

In response to criticisms of its casting practice, director Alex Proyas and Lionsgate issued apologies in late November 2015 for not considering diversity; Lionsgate said it would strive to do better. Mendelson of Forbes said the apologies were "a somewhat different response" than defenses made by Ridley Scott for Exodus and Joe Wright for Pan (2015). Ava DuVernay, who directed Selma (2014), said, "This kind of apology never happens - for something that happens all the time. An unusual occurrence worth noting." The Guardians Ben Child said, "The apologies are remarkable, especially given that Gods of Egypt does not debut in cinemas until 26 February and could now suffer at the box office." Michael Ordoa of San Francisco Chronicle said of the apologies, "That's little comfort to the nonwhite actors denied opportunities or the Egyptians who will see a pale shadow of their ancestral traditions." The Casting Society of America applauded the statements from Lionsgate and Proyas. Professor Todd Boyd, chair for the Study of Race and Popular Culture at the University of Southern California, said, "The apology is an attempt to have it both ways. They want the cast that they selected and they don't want people to hold it against them that it's a white cast."

Boseman, who plays the god Thoth, commenting on the whitewashing, said he expected the backlash to happen when he saw the script. He said, "I'm thankful that it did, because actually, I agree with it. That's why I wanted to do it, so you would see someone of African descent playing Thoth, the father of mathematics, astronomy, the god of wisdom." Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau said, "A lot of people are getting really worked up online about the fact that I'm a white actor. I'm not even playing an Egyptian; I'm an 8-foot-tall god who turns into a falcon. A part of me just wants to freak out, but then I think, 'There's nothing you can do about it.' You can"?t win in that sort of discussion."

In the month leading up to the release, director Proyas said his film was fantasy and not intended to be history. He cited "creative license and artistic freedom of expression" to cast the actors he found to fit the roles. He said "white-washing" was a justified concern but for his fantasy film, "To exclude any one race in service of a hypothetical theory of historical accuracy... would have been biased." Proyas said that films "need more people of color and a greater cultural diversity" but that Gods of Egypt "is not the best one to soap-box issues of diversity with". He argued that the lack of English-speaking Egyptian actors, production practicalities, the studio's requirement for box office draws, and Australia having guidelines limiting "imported" actors were all factors in casting for the film. He concluded, "I attempted to show racial diversity, black, white, Asian, as far as I was allowed, as far as I could, given the limitations I was given. It is obviously clear that for things to change, for casting in movies to become more diverse many forces must align. Not just the creative. To those who are offended by the decisions which were made I have already apologised. I respect their opinion, but I hope the context of the decisions is a little clearer based on my statements here."


Gods of Egypt is directed by Alex Proyas based on a screenplay by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. The film was produced under Summit Entertainment. Proyas was contracted by Summit in May 2012, to write the screenplay with Sazama and Sharpless, and to direct the film. Proyas said he sought to make a big-budget film with an original premise, to contrast franchise films. The director cited the following films as influences on Gods of Egypt: The Guns of Navarone (1961), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and Sergio Leone's Western films. Lionsgate anticipated for Gods of Egypt to be the first film in a new franchise after it finished releasing The Hunger Games films.

Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was cast in June 2013. Gerard Butler, Geoffrey Rush, and Brenton Thwaites joined the cast toward the end of 2013. Chadwick Boseman and Elodie Yung joined the cast at the start of 2014.

Proyas filmed Gods of Egypt in Australia. A crew of 200 began pre-production in Sydney in New South Wales, and producers considered filming in Melbourne in Victoria, to take advantage of the state's tax incentive. Docklands Studios Melbourne was too booked to accommodate Gods of Egypt, and producers were instead offered an airport facility for production. The Australian states New South Wales and Victoria competed to be the location of the film's production, and Summit selected NSW in February 2014. The state's deputy premier Andrew Stoner estimated that the production would add 400 jobs to the state and contribute million to its economy.

Filming began on , 2014 at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney. The setting of Anubis' temple was filmed at Centennial Park in Sydney, and visual effects were laid over the scene. The production budget was . Jon Feltheimer, the CEO of Summit's parent company Lionsgate, said Lionsgate's financial exposure was under due to tax incentives of filming in Australia, as well as foreign pre-sales. The Australian government's tax credit to have the film produced in the country covered 46% of the production budget, and most of the remaining budget was covered by the foreign pre-sales.

In the film, the gods in humanoid form are tall and in "battle beast" form are over tall. Proyas used forced perspective and motion control photography to portray the difference in height between the actors portraying the gods and the humans. Proyas called the logistical challenge a "reverse Hobbit", referring to The Lord of the Rings films in which Hobbits are depicted as shorter than humans. For the Sphinx, actor Kenneth Ransom portrayed the giant creature via motion capture. For the god Thoth, who can appear as many copies, actor Chadwick Boseman was filmed hundreds of times from different angles. For a scene with many copies of Thoth, other actors took a day to film the scene, where Boseman filmed the scene for three days.

Composer Marco Beltrami, who scored Proyas's previous films Knowing (2009) and I, Robot (2004), returned to score Gods of Egypt.



Lionsgate spent an estimated on marketing the film. It released a set of character posters in November 2015, for which it received backlash due to white actors playing Egyptian characters. Later in the month, it released a theatrical trailer. For Super Bowl 50 on February 7, 2016, Lionsgate aired a 60-second spot for Gods of Egypt during the pre-game show, though they released the trailer online a day earlier.

In the week before the film's release, Lions released the tie-in mobile game Gods of Egypt: Secrets of the Lost Kingdom on iOS and Android.

Box office forecast

BoxOffice forecast two months in advance that Gods of Egypt would gross on its opening weekend in the United States and Canada and that it would gross total on its theatrical run. The magazine said the film had "a strong ensemble cast" and that its director has "had a noteworthy following". BoxOffice also said the premise could attract moviegoers who saw Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans, and the Percy Jackson films. Admissions to 3D screenings would help boost Gods of Egypts gross. The magazine said factors negatively impacting the film's gross were a "lackluster reaction" to its marketing and the backlash to its predominantly white cast causing negative buzz. It anticipated that the film's release would be front-loaded (focused on profiting mainly from opening weekend) due to the poor buzz, its categorization as a fantasy film, and with London Has Fallen opening the following weekend.

A week before the film's release, TheWraps Todd Cunningham reported an updated forecast of for its opening weekend in the United States and Canada. The Hollywood Reporters Pamela McClintock said it was tracking to gross between and . Cunningham said the expected gross was low for the film's triple-digit budget as well as additional marketing costs. He said the film could attract Alex Proyas's fan base but that it had suffered "some negativity out there" due to the predominantly white casting as well as the film being perceived to have an "old-fashioned" feel. Exhibitor Relations senior media analyst Jeff Bock said the film "feels late" years after the release of 300 (2007) and Immortals (2011) when an earlier production and release would have been more advantageous. Cunningham said with Lionsgate's financial exposure only and the expected opening gross, the film could gross between and for its theatrical run in the United States and Canada to ultimately avoid a loss. The Hollywood Reporters McClintock said "ancient epics" in recent years had not performed well at the box office, citing the 2014 films Hercules, The Legend of Hercules, and Pompeii.

Ryan Faughnder of Los Angeles Times said in the week before the film's release that the expected opening weekend gross meant that Lionsgate's plans to make Gods of Egypt the first film in a new franchise unlikely. Faughnder said the film would need to perform strongly in territories outside the United States and Canada for a sequel to be developed. Varietys Brent Lang reported that analysts said the film would need to open to or more in the United States to justify a sequel.

Theatrical run

, Gods of Egypt has grossed $22.8 million in North America and $49.6 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $72.4 million, against a budget of $140 million.

Lionsgate released Gods of Egypt in theaters globally starting on , 2016. It was released in 2D, RealD 3D, and IMAX 3D. Lionsgate released the film in the United States and Canada on the weekend of February 26-28 as well as in 68 other markets,, 2016, then it postponed the release to , 2016 before finalizing the date to , 2016.|group="nb"}} including Russia, South Korea, and Brazil. Jaguar Films released the film in the United Arab Emirates (February 25) and other countries in the Middle East under the title Kings of Egypt. Viacom 18 released the film in India on , 2016 in four languages: English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu. eOne will release it in the United Kingdom.

In the United States and Canada, the film was released in . It grossed an estimated $800,000 in Thursday-night previews and $4.8 million on Friday, lowering the projected weekend gross to $11-13 million. It went on to gross $14.1 million in its opening weekend, finishing second at the box office behind Deadpool ($31.5 million). It competed with fellow newcomers Eddie the Eagle and Triple 9 as well as with Deadpool, which opened two weekends earlier. On CinemaScore, opening-day audiences gave the film an average grade of "B-" on an A+ to F scale. The Christian Science Monitors Molly Driscoll said the Gods of Egypts US release was during "a traditionally quiet time at the box office". Scott Mendelson of Forbes commented on supporting versus opposing a successful debut of the film, "It's an example of a great wrong in modern Hollywood (whitewashing) while existing as a great right (an original fantasy from a gifted and visionary director) at the same time." Deadlines Anthony D'Alessandro said, "Gods arrives during a whirlwind week where diversity is a hot-button topic, not only at the Oscars but in the wake of various studies, such as the one from USA Today, revealing Hollywood's lack of minorities and females in starring roles and in the director's chair."

Outside North America, the film will get a staggered release. In its opening weekend it was number one across Central America, Eastern Europe and South East Asia. Top openings were in Russia ($4.3 million), Brazil ($1.9 million) and Philippines ($1.7 million).

Le Vision Pictures acquired rights from Lionsgate in November 2015 to distribute Gods of Egypt in China, and it will release the film there on , 2016. Lionsgate also plans to release the film in the United Kingdom on , 2016.

Critical reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 13%, based on 102 reviews, with an average rating of 3.4/10. Metacritic gives the film a score of 23 out of 100, based on 24 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".

Alonso Duralde of TheWrap wrote, "A mishmash of unconvincing visual effects and clumsy writing "? not to mention another depiction of ancient Egypt in which the lead roles are almost all played by white folks "? Gods of Egypt might have merited a so-bad-it"?s-good schadenfreude fanbase had it maintained the unintentional laughs of its first 10 minutes. Instead, it skids into dullness, thus negating the camp classic that it so often verges on becoming." Joycelyn Noveck of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film a half star out of four, writing, "It"?s obvious the filmmakers were gunning for a sequel here. But this bloated enterprise is so tiresome by the end, it seems more likely headed for a long rest somewhere in the cinematic afterlife." Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club called Gods of Egypt "overlong and very silly," and said: "A treasure trove of gilded fantasy bric-a-brac and clashing accents, Proyas"? sword-and-sandals space opera is a head above the likes of Wrath of the Titans, but it rapidly devolves into a tedious and repetitive succession of monster chases, booby traps, and temples that start to crumble at the last minute."

Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian was less negative on the film: "This is ridiculous. This is offensive. This shouldn"?t be, and I"?m not going to say otherwise if you can"?t bring yourself to buy a ticket for this movie. But if you are on the fence you can always offset your karmic footprint with a donation to a charity, because this movie is a tremendous amount of fun."

In response to the critical drubbing, director Alex Proyas attacked critics in a Facebook post, calling them "diseased vultures pecking at the bones of a dying carcass", who were "trying to peck to the rhythm of the consensus. I applaud any film-goer who values their own opinion enough to not base it on what the pack-mentality says is good or bad."?

Cultural commentary

Molly Driscoll, writing for The Christian Science Monitor, said Gods of Egypt was part of popular culture's "fascination with Egypt", last visited with the 1999 film The Mummy and its sequels and spin-offs. Driscoll also identified Gods of Egypt as part of a trend of film adaptations of mythology such as the 2010 film Clash of the Titans.

See also

  • Ancient Egyptian deities in popular culture
  • List of fantasy films of the 2010s

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