There is a resurgence of interest in faith-based productions and the creators of the successful television miniseries The Bible have decided to make a full-length feature film.
A recap of the first episode of History Channel’s miniseries The Bible
The movie will be called Son of God and will highlight the life and times of Jesus Christ, and will be produced by 20th Century Fox to be released in February 2014.
The studio is planning to ride on the massive popularity of the miniseries The Bible with its two-hour finale in March on the History Channel earning it a massive 13 million viewers and 3 Emmy nominations. The series is also part of a group credited as creating a resurgence in the television mini-series category.
According to Columbia Pictures executive DeVon Franklin, the market is getting ready for blockbusters in this genre with lots of interest and we could expect to see several faith-based epics in the near future.
In keeping with the trend, a movie called Heaven is for Real, is being released for Easter which is based on the film adaption of the best-selling 2010 book of the same name. It’s described as a true story about a four-year-old boy who “experienced heaven” during an emergency surgery.
An underserved community, the studios are hoping that quality content will receive a large audience in this genre. The general consensus from those interviewed is that it is a genre with lots of potential and not enough quality content.
This is especially true for people who are religious and don’t like the releases that come out every week with superheroes or war movies. Faith-based movies could open the floodgates of revenue through this underserved group of people. Their conviction has already been proven correct by the mega revenues of the History Channel TV series.
Hollywood has always catered to small minority groups like feminists, environmentalists, LGBT, etc. to make money and the large 91 million Evangelical Christians in the US are one of the best communities to address as a market both due to the size and their dedication towards their faith.
Similarly, in 2008, the low-budget movie Fireproof, starring Christian actor Kirk Cameron, grossed an astonishing $33 million, the highest among independent films that year. Cameron also had recent success with his movie Unstoppable, which on one night alone in just 700 theaters raked in $2 million. Comparatively, the big budget movie Prisoners, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, brought in $2.2 million from five times as many theaters, according to Yahoo.
Nine years ago The Passion of the Christ made an estimated $612 million worldwide, and this upcoming movie, Son of God is expected to even bigger. The concept is also being tested on Jewish and Christian audiences through the blockbuster Old Testament story Noah, directed by Black Swan‘s Darren Aronofsky and with big names such as Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins, and Jennifer Connelly.
With a $125 million budget, it’s a big gamble for the backers. But for many professionals within the industry, these films hold personal value to them as many of them want to produce movies that are spiritually moving and ones that give hope to the people. Movies have the power to change a lot of things and faith based movies can bring positive changes to society.
However, it is also tricky due to the sensitive nature of the content. Getting everyone satisfied is a gargantuan task, especially as religious crowds tend to be very particular about accuracy and agreement with scripture, which can often be difficult to achieve in the movie format.