- (Photo: CTMG/This Is the End)
The recently released movie "This is the End," which has received some criticism from Christians for inaccurately portraying the apocalypse by biblical standards, reportedly had to be partially re-done to include a scene showing heaven due to popular demand by a test audience.
Seth Rogen, who co-wrote and directed the film with Evan Goldberg, said in a recent interview that an audience test-screening the apocalyptic comedy was disappointed the film didn't include an ending which showed all the characters in heaven following the Rapture.
Rogen and Goldberg were surprised to find their test audience wanted to see an ending involving heaven.
"Overwhelmingly people were like, 'What happens in heaven? What happens in heaven?'" Rogen, who also acts in the film, told The Associated Press in a recent interview.
"We had shown people so much crazy [expletive], we didn't expect them to want more," the comedy actor, who has previously starred in films such as "Pineapple Express," told the news outlet.
Rogen went on to say that the film originally included a heaven ending, but he and Goldberg thought it was too cheesy and decided to cut it.
Ultimately, writers for the film did end up reshooting a heaven scene to appease their audience, one which includes the boy band the Backstreet Boys singing "Everybody" and the pearl-gated entrance to the afterlife.
Rogen told The Associated Press that the reshoot of the heaven scene only took one day and did not take an excessive bite out of the film's budget.
The film, which has earned $33 million at the box office since opening last week, follows actors Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, and Jonah Hill, who all play themselves, as they face the apocalypse on earth.
While all Christians in the film are immediately raptured to heaven, Rogen and his actor friends are left on earth to fight evil, and they are only allowed into heaven after they perform good deeds.
The film has been criticized by Christians, as it does not give a proper portrayal of the Rapture by biblical standards, which states that atonement for one's sins cannot be achieved simply by performing good deeds, but rather by asking Jesus for forgiveness and accepting him into one's life.
"The idea that they ought to confess their sins, repent, ask for forgiveness and accept the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on their behalf as the only acceptable atonement for their sins is never floated as an option," Marc Newman, president of MovieMinistry.com, writes for The Christian Post's Flicks & Faith blog.
"Instead, it's a kind of self-conscious self-sacrifice that is your ticket to the great beyond. In other words, good deeds – and it doesn't take much – will do the job. No one mentions that if this were possible, it would render the cross of Christ completely unnecessary," Newman adds.
Rogen said in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly that he acknowledges the film does not coincide with Christian beliefs regarding the apocalypse, and rather he was trying to focus more on what would be appealing as comedy rather that biblically factual.
"[In the film] no one accepts Jesus in their heart in order to get redeemed; it's more about self-redemption, which is not what Christians really believe in, for the most part," Rogen said in the recent interview with EW. "To us, that was a much more interesting story line for the movie and something that we really related to.
"Movies are always about redemption, so when you find a mechanism that kind of has that as one of the built-in triggers, it was really nice from a writing standpoint."
Regardless of the film's adherence to Scripture, critics contend that there has been a growing fascination with apocalyptic-type films in the U.S., as seen by another film released earlier this month, "Rapture-Palooza."
Pastor Dave Watson at Calvary Chapel in Mariners Harbor, Staten Island, N.Y., said in a recent interview that he believes Hollywood's fascination with the end times is due to the increasing spiritual hunger of mankind.
"As we look at the social, economic, ecological, political and moral problems that the human race faces, it is quite predictable that there would be a market for speculation with how it all ends or resets itself," Watson told the Staten Island Advance in a recent interview.
"This speaks, I believe, to a spiritual hunger, a desire by humankind to know, and, if possible, control his or her destiny," Pastor Watson added.
"This Is The End" has received overall positive reviews from critics, including a rating of 85 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes film rating website.
This film serves as the third collaboration between Rogen and Goldberg, the first two being "Superbad" and "Pineapple Express."