Nikos Kazantzakis' 1960 book The Last Temptation of Christ got him excommunicated from the Greek Orthodox Church and the book placed on the Vatican's list of banned books. So it comes as no surprise, then, that decades later, Martin Scorsese met controversy when he decided to adapt the book into a film. The film's original production house, Paramount, dropped it in 1983 after protests by evangelical groups objecting to its blasphemous narrating of a marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Despite continued boycott threats, the film was picked up by Universal Pictures in 1987 and given another go. When it opened the following year, thousands of Christian protesters picketed outside of Universal's offices and the Vatican issued a public condemnation. One religious group reportedly even offered to reimburse the full production costs if the film was pulled.
Where Last Temptation faltered in the eyes of the Holy See, Mel Gibson's 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ succeeded in telling the bloody, torturous story of Jesus' final hours. After a private screening at the Vatican, a spokesman announced the Pope had given the movie two thumbs up. They later retracted the statement, saying the Pope doesn't do movie reviews.