Steve Carell is a pretty big star these days, but is he big enough to propel the most expensive comedy ever made? Let’s hope so, since The Los Angeles Times is reporting that’s what his next movie, Evan Almighty, is well on its way to becoming.

The movie’s a sequel to the hit Jim Carrey comedy Bruce Almighty in which Carell stole scenes in a bit role as a competing reporter. For Evan, Carell’s character takes center stage when God commands him to build an ark.

While comedies aren’t usually big-budget affairs, in the case of Evan it makes sense. Universal Pictures initially set aside a substantial $140 million for it, anticipating a movie full of miracles, floods, and god-type miracles. But apparently that $140 million has now swelled to $175 million. Tack on the $75 million in marketing costs the studio expects to spend and Evan Almighty could end up costing in excess of $250 million, making it the most expensive comedy ever.

Can the movie make it back? Universal seems to think so, and I wouldn’t bet against it. Carell is huge right now and the premise is funny enough and broad enough to garner wide audiences. Come on, who doesn’t want to see Steve Noah’d out and swinging a hammer at Morgan Freeman’s (default God) whim. And of course there’s always the chance that these numbers could be overinflated. Remember that Superman Returns was rumored to cost everything from $300 to $500 million months before finally being released, while its actual cost was significantly lower.

Still, Steve has his work cut out for him if he wants his new movie to break even next Summer. Bruce Almighty made $240 million worldwide and another $241 million overseas, but then it had Jim Carrey. Normally Hollywood movies can’t count on overseas attendance help, since comedies don’t usually do as well internationally as action movies. Foreigners don’t always get our sense of humor.

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