Hollywood has a long history of making Bible-based movies, including epics by Cecil B. DeMille and John Huston; Italian directors Pasolini, Rossellini, and Zeffirelli; American Martin Scorsese, and Australian Mel Gibson. Broadway musicals have also been made into “biblical” movies and videos such as Jesus Christ, Superstar and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Smaller productions abound including the Visual Bible’s Matthew, Acts, and The Gospel of John, the TV presentation Judas, Campus Crusade’s The Jesus Project, and Johnny Cash’s The Gospel Road. Then there are upcoming movie epics with proven box-office stars. Noah, for example, features Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins, and there are other offerings planned by two major studios. Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox are planning productions on the life of Moses, with Steven Spielberg being sought to direct one of them. Randall Wallace (Braveheart, Secretariat) will direct the upcoming film version of the New York Times bestseller Heaven Is for Real (see May 2011 feature article), which, although not a biblical story, claims to give the first-hand experiences of a young boy who visited heaven.
It seems that Hollywood has been attracted to the Bible more than ever, thanks in large part to the financial success of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. The History Channel’s recent 10-hour miniseries titled The Bible did nothing to dampen the ongoing enthusiasm as it broke viewer records, making it “the most-watched cable entertainment telecast of the year.” It played to more than 13 million viewers. Many Christians might conclude that much of the interest from secular entertainment companies is reason to rejoice. Of course, that would prove to be a hasty conclusion, especially for those who would call themselves biblical Christians.