Paramount’s “Noah” and “God’s Not Dead” are among the top four films at the American Box Office. And with a slate of Christian-centric films on Hollywood’s agenda, 2014 has been dubbed by industry press as the year of biblical movies.
“Son of God” | 20th Century Fox (February 2014)
In the Holy Land, the Roman occupation has produced a cauldron of oppression, anxiety and excessive taxes levied upon the Jewish people. Fearing the wrath of Roman governor Pontius Pilate (Greg Hicks), Jewish high priest Caiaphas (Adrian Schiller) tries to keep control of his people. That control is threatened when Jesus arrives in Jerusalem, performing miracles and spreading messages of love and hope. Those who fear that Jesus will inspire a revolution decide that he must die.
“Noah” | Regency Enterprises (November 2014)
When God decides that mankind has become too sinful and must be wiped off the Earth, he chooses Noah (Russell Crowe), a pious man, for a great task. Noah must build an ark large enough to hold his wife (Jennifer Connelly), adopted daughter (Emma Watson), sons (Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth, Leo McHugh Carroll) and their wives — plus breeding pairs of every animal. When the task is completed, Noah and his family witness God’s wrath in the form of an apocalyptic flood.
“Heaven is For Real” | Sony Pictures (April 2014)
Small-town businessman, pastor and volunteer firefighter Todd Burpo (Greg Kinnear) and his wife, Sonja (Kelly Reilly), are struggling to make ends meet during a tough year. After their young son, Colton (Connor Corum), undergoes emergency surgery, Todd and Sonja are overjoyed at the child’s miraculous recovery. However, the Burpos are unprepared for what happens next — Colton says that he went to heaven and back, and tells his parents things that he couldn’t possibly know.
“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. Critics won’t be able to help themselves from comparing the film to the 1956 movie “The Ten Commandments” starring Charlton Heston. The question will be whether this film can duplicate the classic’s box office success.
“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. Under the reign of terror of Herod the Great and against all odds, Mary and Joseph survive as young parents in one of the most treacherous times in history. From Mary’s youth to her struggles as a young mother caring for her child, Jesus, up to the age of four years old. We will peer into Mary’s life at ages 8, 15, 19 and 27. (Written by Aloe Entertainment) We are determined to make the familiar story new to our eyes and our hearts. It’s as if in the past we were taught to love this family, rather than sharing their lives in big and small ways and letting a natural empathy develop. One of the visual leitmotifs we are intent on is seeing the tiny fragile element of Mary who is essentially up against doubters who want to stone her to death, a fallen angel trying to harness all his persuasive power to try and get her to doubt her faith, and a mad King named Herod who will unleash rivers of blood in his intent in finding and killing her son. We must think of Mary as this very young, very vulnerable warrior. For the first time we will see how she has to stand on her own to protect her assignment in a way that reflects the legendary courage mothers are known for protecting their own.
The increase 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 film industry is a mirror reflecting what society desires: sex, violence, and great stories with a touch of God in the mix.
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.