New Bible movie “Son of God” is slated for release in 2014

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Building on a growing interest in faith-based productions, the creators of the hit TV miniseries “The Bible” will soon be carrying the message of Christian faith to moviegoers with a feature film.

A film adaptation of “The Bible”, titled “Son of God” and highlighting the life of Jesus Christ, has been purchased by 20th Century Fox, which will be released in theaters nationwide on February 28.

The film portends a revival of Hollywood that looks to the scriptures for inspiration, as more Bible stories are being prepared for the big screen.

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Combining previously released and unused footage from the 10-part “The Bible” miniseries, “Son of God” will run for over two hours. The studio is banking on its popularity on television, which shocked many when its two-hour finale, which aired on the History Channel in March, achieved hit ratings.

About 13 million viewers listened to the show’s finale, which depicts the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. It scored the History Channel’s most-watched show and garnered three Emmy nominations, later selling nearly a million units on DVD, Blu-ray, and DigitalHD platforms.

Columbia Pictures director DeVon Franklin says the market for faith-based films has always been vibrant, but Bible epics are likely the next wave of its kind Hollywood will produce.

For Easter 2014, his studio is releasing “Heaven is for Real”, a TD Jakes and Joe Roth-produced film adaptation of 2010’s best-selling book and starring Oscar-nominated Greg Kinnear.

“It’s an underserved audience,” Franklin told Newsmax. “We are continually trying to deliver great content and quality films to what I believe is an exciting but growing audience.”

Seasoned film critic and Breitbart News associate editor Christian Toto agrees that “there is an untapped audience” for such programming.

“There are people who are deeply religious and they watch the Cineplex and say that there is nothing for me, whether it is too violent, that there is too much anti-hero, or general suspicion. from Hollywood which has not responded to this public for a long time, “Toto told Newsmax.

“Faith-based films, until recently, were small-scale without a big star, and yet they did quite well at the box office,” he said. “I think Hollywood realizes that it’s profitable. I think the airing of ‘The Bible’ made it clear.”

The television series was produced by Mark Burnett and his wife, actress Roma Downey, for Hearst Entertainment & Syndication. Burnett has also made a name for himself in Hollywood, producing popular reality shows such as “Survivor”, “The Apprentice”, “Shark Tank” and, most recently, the singing contest “The Voice”.

“We are very excited to be working with 20th Century Fox to release ‘Son of God’ as a major film,” Burnett and Downey, the film’s producers, said in a statement. “We have responded to an overwhelming demand that ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’ be seen as a shared experience on the big screen. The result is a beautiful independent film. This is the story of Jesus for a whole new generation. “

Phil Cooke, a Burbank, Calif. Filmmaker, media consultant and author, says Christians are a perfect target group for the film industry.

“Hollywood bends over backwards to woo very small interest groups – feminists, environmentalists, gays – but there are over 91 million evangelical Christians in the United States, which makes us the largest interest group. special of all. Cooke said. “What confuses me is why Hollywood doesn’t take this audience more seriously. We are the mainstream.”

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Cooke, author of “Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brand and Social Media,” advises churches, ministers and other Christian groups on how best to get their messages across. He said he was amused that shortly after the “The Bible” television series aired, he received calls from three major news agencies whose reporters were “puzzled” that anyone wanted to watch such programming.

“They come from such a secular worldview that it had never crossed their minds that someone would be interested in a Bible TV series,” he said. “There are a lot of Christians out there. Forget the ideology. It’s just good business. When you have so many potential customers and you’re not trying to reach them with a product especially for them … Hollywood, I think, needs to understand the commercial potential of this. “

In 2008, a low-budget film called “Fireproof,” starring Christian actor Kirk Cameron, garnered renewed attention after it became a surprise hit, grossing over $ 33 million, the most high among independent films that year.

Now, nine years after “The Passion of Christ” grossed nearly $ 612 million worldwide, yet another Bible-centric epic hits the big screen, raising hopes Hollywood will return to the projects Bible stories of the 1950s and 1960s, when films such as “Ben-Hur” and “The Ten Commandments” became classics.

Currently being tested by Jewish and Christian audiences, the Old Testament success story “Noah”, directed by Darren Aronofsky of “Black Swan” and starring big names like Russell Crowe in the title role, Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins and Jennifer Connelly.

Its budget is $ 125 million and, according to some reports, is growing, making it a massive bet on a well-known biblical story.

According to IMDB.com, “The Redemption of Cain” is also in development, a version of the Cain vs. Abel story from the Old Testament book of Genesis about the fighting sons of Adam and Eve. Leading actor Will Smith is set to helm the Bible classic.

For Franklin of Columbia Pictures, faith-based films are important both personally and professionally.

“I absolutely want to make films that inspire people, give them hope and make a positive change in culture,” he said. “Being able to make films that have messages of faith… that’s one of the reasons for making films in general. It’s the power to be able to change people’s lives.”

“I believe there is a crossover and mainstream audience for faith-inspired material,” he said, “and I certainly want to be able to prove that is the case with ‘Heaven is for Real ‘. “

Getting it right for all audiences presents a difficult hurdle, especially with a religious crowd, Toto says.
“That’s the challenge Hollywood faces – doing justice, being faithful and supporting the source material. It’s fine to make a movie called ‘Noah’, but if it doesn’t agree with the philosophies from the church, these people will be angry and not trust more films like this that will be released in the future. “

Cooke points to other series in progress, including one by Burnett and Downey relating the book of Acts of the New Testament. Other players in the entertainment industry would be wise to take note of the trend, he said.

“He’s the most successful living producer on television and he’s moving forward with Bible projects. If this guy thinks there’s an audience for that, we should explore that further.”

But as Hollywood turns to Christianity for its storytelling, Cooke believes Christians need to “lighten up” and not dismiss its messaging power to spark a deeper conversation about the faith.

“We have to suck a little bit and realize the value of these cultural Bible conversations. It’s so incredibly remarkable, I’m willing to give them a little slack,” he said. “We’re doing our best. We don’t want them to cross dangerous theological boundaries, but I’m willing to give them enormous leeway just to get it out.

Cooke adds, “I have never met people who have been saved while watching a movie, but it has made them reconsider what they think of God. We have to be mature enough to understand that no, Hollywood is not going to do bible stories the way we grew up with them. But I think if they’re willing to spend that much alone on a story like Noah, count me.

“Anything that allows me to strike up a conversation with a friend or colleague about God, it works for me,” Cooke said. “” The Passion of Christ “has led millions of people to speak of the death and resurrection of Christ.”

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