Gods of Egypt is a 2016 Australian-American fantasy action film directed by Alex Proyas. It stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Chadwick Boseman, Élodie Yung, Courtney Eaton, Rufus Sewell, Gerard Butler and Geoffrey Rush. In the film, which features ancient Egyptian deities, 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 $140 million, 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 Proyas apologized for ethnically inaccurate casting.
Lionsgate released Gods of Egypt in theaters globally starting on February 25, 2016 in 2D, RealD 3D, and IMAX 3D, and in the United States, Canada, and 68 other markets on February 26. The film was panned by critics and was a box office failure, grossing a total of $143 million against a $140 million budget.
In an alternative Egypt, the world is flat and gods live among mortal humans. The Egyptian gods are distinguished from humans by their greater height, golden blood, and ability to transform into animal-headed deity forms.
Bek, a mortal thief with little faith in gods and their good will towards mortals, with his love Zaya are attending the coronation of Horus, lord of the air, by his father, the abdicating King of Egypt Osiris. Horus is shown getting ready for his coronation as his love Hathor (Goddess of Love) surprises him. Horus hints at marriage and they discuss Hathor’s protection bracelet made of the stars which Horus gave to her to protect and save her from her previous role as a guide to dead souls in the underworld. However, during the ceremony Osiris is killed by his jealous brother Set, god of the desert, who seizes the throne and declares a new regime where the dead will have to pay with riches to pass into the afterlife. Horus is stripped of his eyes, which are the source of his power, and almost killed. Hathor pleads with Set to spare him and he is instead exiled. Hathor becomes an enslaved mistress to Set.
A year later Bek has been working as a slave building monuments, while Zaya is now under the ownership of the chief architect Urshu. Believing that Horus is the only one who can defeat Set, she gives Bek the floorplans to Set’s treasure vault. Bek is able to steal back one of Horus’ eyes . However, Urshu finds out about their theft and kills Zaya as the couple flee. Bek takes her body to the blind Horus and makes a bargain: Horus agrees to bringing Zaya back from the dead for his eye and Bek’s knowledge about Set’s pyramid.
Later, they are travelling to Ra’s divine vessel above the Earth. 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 can be used at Set’s pyramid to extinguish the desert thirst and weaken him gravely. Ra tells Horus that his weakness is the result of him not fulfilling his destiny, which Horus believes means avenging his parents’ deaths.
Set asks Hathor to take him to the underworld which he next desires to conquer, but she refuses and manages to escape. Eventually, Hathor finds Bek and Horus. Horus at first doesn’t trust her, as she is Set’s mistress who had blinded him, while she tries to convince him that Set is her enemy as well. When they tell her of their plan regarding Set’s pyramid, she warns them of a guardian sphinx who will kill anyone not wise enough to solve a riddle. The group then heads to the library of Thoth the god of wisdom, recruiting him to solve the riddle.
Arriving at Set’s shrine, they overcome its traps, including the sphinx, to reach the source of Set’s power. But before they can pour the divine water in, Set traps them and reveals Horus’ deception to Bek: that he is unable to bring Zaya back from the dead. Set destroys their flask of divine water and kills Thoth by taking his brain, but Horus is able to save Hathor and Bek.