2014: Year of the Bible movies
The Chinese may be celebrating the Year of the Horse, but fans of faith-based films have declared 2014 the Year of the Bible Movie. First out of the gate was “Son of God,” which opened strong, but had a disappointing showing its second week. Pundits didn’t have long to assess the implication of the movie’s box office showing since two other significant movies, “God’s Not Dead” and the long-anticipated film “Noah,” debuted the latter part of March. Data on those two releases was not available at press time. Also on the horizon is “Heaven is for Real,” expected to be another large box-office draw. Here is a wrap-up of what to expect in 2014:
Son of God: Produced by the husband-wife team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the epic picture was mostly a recast from the couple’s 2013 blockbuster mini-series “The Bible.”
Noah With a budget in excess of $125 million, there has been persistent public wrangling between [Director Darren] Aronofjsky’s creative intentions for the film and Paramount Pictures’ desire to not alienate its significant ticket draw—Christians.
“Here is what you need to know about Faith Driven Consumers: We hold a deep, daily commitment to our faith, and therefore being true to the Bible is vitally important to us,” wrote Chris Stone, a brand strategist who founded Faith Driven Consumer. “This is the driving factor behind our healthy skepticism over ‘Noah.’”
“In the run-up to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy or the Harry Potter movies, journalists wrote extensively about the need to remain true to the books and ensure that these films still connected with their core audiences,” Stone said in his letter. “By respecting these audiences and the stories as told in these novels, these films did resonate and were successful business enterprises.” www.noahmovie.com
Heaven is for Real: The [story of Colton Burpo] who reveals compelling details of his ethereal trip after a near-death experience—hits the big screen April 16.
For the film adaptation, “Heaven is for Real” widens its scope, incorporating Todd’s struggles in deciding to go public with Colton’s story. His son’s story not only impacts the Burpos, but also their small town, which was inundated with media in light of the revelations about the child’s experience. While immensely moving and comforting for some fans, the book has its critics and skeptics. Filmed in Winnipeg, Canada, “Heaven is for Real” opens in time for Easter weekend.
Left Behind: Set for release sometime this year is a remake of the 2001 picture “Left Behind.” Starring Nicolas Cage, Chad Michael Murray, Cassi Thomson, Nicky Whelan and Jordin Sparks, the remake focuses on the first few hours after the Rapture and “the chaos of the world in the wake of millions of people vanishing with no explanation.”
The reboot is directed by Vic Armstrong and produced by Paul Lalonde, who also co-wrote the script with John Patus. Filmed in Baton Rouge, La., the $15 million action-thriller will be released through Stoney Lake Entertainment.
God’s Not Dead: Art imitates life in Pure Flix Entertaiment’s “God’s Not Dead,” which released March 21. The screenplay, based on the Rice Broocks book by the same title, depicts the adversarial relationship between college freshman Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), a devout Christian, and Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo), his dogmatic and argumentative philosophy instructor. Several other storylines add dimension to the plot.
Exodus: Just in time for Christmas, noted English director Ridley Scott is expected to release his big budget film “Exodus,” starring Christian Bale as Moses, and Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley.
[TBC: More than 50 years ago, A.W. Tozer warned of the dilution of Scripture through movies. "Surely it requires no genius to see that the Bible rules out pictures and dramatics as media for bringing faith and life to the human soul.
"The plain fact is that no vital spiritual truth can be expressed by a picture. Actually all any picture can do is to recall to mind some truth already learned through the familiar medium of the spoken or written word. Religious instruction and words are bound together by a living cord and cannot be separated without fatal loss. The Spirit Himself, teaching soundlessly within the heart, makes use of ideas previously received into the mind by means of words.
"If I am reminded that modern religious movies are "sound" pictures, making use of the human voice to augment the dramatic action, the answer is easy. Just as far as the movie depends upon spoken words it makes pictures unnecessary; the picture is the very thing that differentiates between the movie and the sermon. The movie addresses its message primarily to the eye, and the ear only incidentally. Were the message addressed to the ear as in the Scriptures, the picture would have no meaning and could be omitted without loss to the intended effect. Words can say all that God intends them to say, and this they can do without the aid of pictures.
"According to one popular theory the mind receives through the eye five times as much information as the ear. As far as the external shell of physical facts is concerned this may hold good, but when we come to spiritual truth we are in another world entirely. In that world the outer eye is not too important. God addresses His message to the hearing ear. "We look," says Paul, "not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." This agrees with the whole burden of the the Bible, which teaches us that we should withdraw our eyes from beholding visible things, and fasten the eyes of our hearts upon God while we reverently listen to His uttered words" (Tozer, "The Menace of the Religious Movie").]