Excitement over the upcoming "Exodus: Gods and Kings" film has turned into protests over the all-white leading cast.
The action-packed film is an adaptation of the biblical story of Moses—a Hebrew who was adopted by the Pharaoh's daughter and frees the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. While white actors were cast in the lead roles, black actors were cast as slaves.
The Ridley Scott-directed movie features Christian Bale as Moses, Sigourney Weaver as his adopted mother, Queen Tuya, John Turturro as Pharaoh Seti, and Joel Edgerton as Moses' adopted brother, Ramses II.
Bloggers and Twitter users quickly protested the cast's lack of diversity.
"It's White Moses Versus White Pharoah Saving A Bunch Of White Guys From The Other Bunch Of White Guys, None Of Whom Should Actually Be White," read a headline on movie blog site Twitch.
"How can you make excuses for whitewashing Ancient Egypt?! #BoycottExodusMovie," one Twitter user posted.
"There's no way I will support subliminal racism. White people are always our heroes huh? Even for the Egyptians. #BoycottExodusMovie," another said.
The iconic 1956 film "The Ten Commandments" also had an all-white cast. The film starred Charlton Heston as Moses, Yul Brynner as Ramses, and Anne Baxter as Nefertiti. The racial climate, number of black actors, and opportunities provided to then were very different in 1956, however.
"#BoycottExodusMovie and its [sic] not like there isn't [sic] enough black actors around," one person wrote. "Hollywood just didn't wanna make a 'black movie' kmt."
There is also a Change.org petition asking people to boycott the film.
"The Bible says both Egyptians and Ethiopians are descendants of Ham," the petition reads. "Remember, Egypt wasn't invaded by Rome until 300 BC. Egypt is in Africa not Europe."
It has received 111 signatures.
Despite the criticism, Scott looks forward to telling the extraordinary story of Moses.
"What I thought I knew about Moses I didn't really," he told Entertainment Weekly earlier this month. "Either I wasn't paying attention in Sunday school or I had forgotten.
"I was knocked out by who he was and the basics of the story—it has to be one of the greatest adventures and spiritual experiences that could ever have been."