Although the cineplex might not be the first place you think of for receiving a good lesson in Christianity or a nice Bible study, you might soon think differently. After Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ grossed a whopping $612 million worldwide, one would have thought that studio executives would have been lining up to make the next big religion-themed film. But that wasn’t the case. But, to everything there is a season, and for movies based on religious stories, that season is the year 2014.
Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and Emma Watson star in Noah, out March 28. Directed by The Wrestler and Black Swan auteur Darren Aronofsky, this kind of large-scale epic is a change of pace for the director. The movie comes complete with an arc using the measurements described in the good book (300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits) and details its building and the massive flood. But Aronofsky warns against people taking the movie too seriously or judging him for making artistic choices. Ads and trailers will feature a disclaimer stating, “The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the Book of Genesis.” This comes as a result that the movie is already banned in several Middle Eastern and that issues are arising based on its content. Issues with the biblical drama include the depiction of a prophet common in Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths and the fact that Aronofsky took liberties with the Old Testament story. But, if one has the ability to appreciate entertainment for what it is, this movie may be the big, wet, Noah saga you’ve been waiting for.
Another religious-based epic coming to theaters this year is Exodus, starring Christian Bale. With him at the wheel, you know it must be pretty good. Bale plays none other than Moses, who you can as the Prince of Egypt turned freer of the Jewish people when the film opens Dec. 12. Exodus will tackle all the biblical key pieces – the plagues, the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea- while Bale plays Moses as a tanned action hero leading the Israelites out of Egypt. The movie is being promoted as and will be more of a Gladiator than a Ten Commandments. Exodus, which was shot in 3D, will also focus on Moses’s humanity as well as his achievements.
Son of God, which opened Feb. 28, is a Jesus biopic (the first since Gibson’s Passion) that results from editing/combining the History Channel miniseries The Bible. The miniseries/movie was produced by Survivor producer Mark Burnett and his wife, actress Roma Downey (who plays Jesus’ mother, Mary). The team made the film and the 10-part series by adapting the books of Genesis and Revelation. The duo recently embarked on an eight-week tour of U.S. churches to screen the film. Burnett has also already begun working on a 12-part sequel to The Bible that will air in 2015 on NBC.
Also in the works? Will Smith is developing a Cain-and-Abel script, Sony is working on a David-and-Goliath film, and Warner Bros. already has a Pontius Pilate movie underway.
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