Jonathan Merritt writes in Religion News Service:
The scrappy Christian film industry has been budding for the last several years, proving that people of faith are hungry for content that speaks to the soul. But what many religious films possess in terms of spiritual content, they often lack in star power and budgets. This year, however, big studios such as Sony and Lionsgate are entering the fray by releasing films of, well, biblical proportions. To wit:
“Son of God” | 20th Century Fox (February 2014)
Reality TV pioneer Mark Burnett and his wife, actress Roma Downey, shocked the world last year when their History Channel series “The Bible” set cable TV records. Now, the Christian power couple has taken footage from that series and partnered with 20th Century Fox to create “Son of God,” a film about Jesus’ life that will doubtlessly attract churchgoing Americans. As the first film on this list to release, it may be helpful box office barometer for the others.
“Noah” | Regency Enterprises (November 2014)
A flood of publicity has already been created around the “Noah” film and its impressive $130 million budget. . . .
“Heaven is For Real” | Sony Pictures (April 2014)
Though not technically a biblical movie, Sony Pictures’ “Heaven is For Real” must also be mentioned because . . . . [Because you will watch it]
“Exodus” | 20th Century Fox (December 2014)
Twentieth Century Fox has kept a tight lid on Ridley Scott’s “Exodus.” All we know is that the film is an adaptation of the biblical story of the ancient Israelite people’s liberation from Egypt. Christian Bale will star as Moses, and Sigourney Weaver will co-star. . . .
“Mary, Mother of Christ” | Lionsgate Films (December 2014)
The long awaited prequel to “The Passion of The Christ” is scheduled to arrive before Christmas after a long set of delays. The cast includes the late Peter O’Toole, Sir Ben Kinglsey, Julia Ormond, and 16-year-old Israeli newcomer Odeya Rush as the holy mother herself. The hefty cast combined with a serious budget from Lionsgate and the backing of several Christian notables (including mega-church pastor Joel Osteen who gets an executive producer credit) give this movie serious box office potential.
The uptick in biblical movies is a testament to the ongoing power of those ancient narratives to capture the hearts and minds of the masses. And it also reminds us that Hollywood is driven by money more than by agendas. The Bible’s stories are an enduring draw, so Hollywood is doing what it has always done best—turning a buck by giving audiences what they want.
2013 was the year of movie flops about the shroud. Remember . . .