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Disney will distribute Mel Gibson’s ‘Apocalypto’

Studio deny report it’s trying to sell Mayan thriller after anti-Semitic rant
/ Source: Reuters

The Walt Disney Co. will distribute “Apocalypto,” a Mayan-language film by actor-director Mel Gibson, as planned on Dec. 8, a Walt Disney Studios spokeswoman said Friday.

That confirmation refutes recent media and Internet reports that family-oriented Disney wanted to sell distribution rights to the film to another studio to distance itself from the controversy over anti-Semitic remarks Gibson made when he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving last month in Malibu, California.

“It’s not true,” Disney spokeswoman Heidi Trotta said of the reports. Disney had no role in producing the film, a thriller with a cast of unknowns that is set in in an ancient Mayan settlement and told in the Yucatec dialect with subtitles. Hollywood experts said that until his arrest, it was expected that Gibson would lead the publicity campaign for the film.

Gibson has said the story would be told through the eyes of a Mayan man, his family and village, and would touch on universal themes about “civilizations and what undermines them.”

Shortly after Gibson’s arrest, Disney-owned ABC television network opted not to produce a miniseries about the Holocaust with his Icon Productions company.

Gibson, 50, has been charged with drunken driving and having an open container of alcohol in his car in connection with the traffic stop, during which he told a sheriff’s deputy that Jews “were responsible for all the wars in the world.”

The rant prompted some Jewish leaders to call on Hollywood to shun the actor, who holds strong conservative Catholic religious and political views and whose father is a Holocaust denier.

Gibson has apologized and entered an alcohol rehabilitation program.

Gibson’s 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ” provoked an outcry from the Jewish community, which saw it as an attempt to inflame anti-Semitic sentiments among Christians.