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Hollywood turns to God this year

Christian Hollywood

Hollywood turns to God this year
theObserver – Sizzling Faith

TUESDAY, 31 DECEMBER 2013 19:50 WRITTEN BY MALITA WAMALA & AGENCIES

Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ was released in 2004 to mixed reactions; while the film was a huge success in Christian audiences worldwide – it was screened to packed halls at Cineplex Kampala for several weeks – Hollywood was not as kind.

The actor Jim Caviezel, who acted as Jesus in the movie, in 2011 claimed that his career fell apart for taking the role. Other amazing actors who have perfected movie roles in Bible-based scripts, such as Tiffany Dupont’s depiction of Hadassah/Esther in the film One Night with the King (2006), have not received the recognition they deserved.

Yet to many Christians, Caviezel possibly ranked above any Denzel Washington work that year, just as Dupont was their movie star of 2006. As Hollywood sought to accommodate a changing, increasingly liberal audience by, for example, making sure no hit series, sitcom or movie, is complete without a successful gay couple on the cast, Bible-based storylines took a backseat.

But 2014 promises to be different and actors such as Caviezel need not worry anymore, seeing as big names including Will Smith, Russel Crowe and Emma Watson are riffling through the Bible’s pages to get into character for their next big projects.

Superheroes are being replaced by biblical figures in a series of Hollywood blockbusters to be released in 2014. The films mark a U-turn by movie-makers who appear to be reaching out to America’s evangelical heartland. Releases include Mary Mother of Christ starring 16-year-old Israeli-born actress Odeya Rush.

A synopsis of the film written by the same name behind The Passion of The Christ, reads: “It is a part of Mary, Joseph and Jesus’ life that has not been shown before. Under the reign of terror of Herod and against all odds, they survive as young parents in one of the most treacherous times in history.”

In March, the blockbuster Noah starring Russell Crowe and Emma Watson will be released. The film will see Crowe build an ark and rescue mankind from the great flood while Watson plays his adopted daughter. The film has cost $150m and promises to be jam-packed with special effects.

Sir Ridley Scott, known for Alien and Blade Runner, directs Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses and includes a scene where he parts the Red Sea. Gods and Kings is another feature film which focuses on the life of Moses.

Son of God will star Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado as Jesus Christ while Will Smith is believed to be interested in making a film based on Cain and Abel.

Phil Cooke, a filmmaker and media consultant to Christian organisations, told UK’s The Telegraph: “What’s happened is they have understood it’s very good business to take Christians seriously and this is a real serious market.”

“For years, Hollywood bent over backwards to reach special interest groups, be it feminists or environmentalists. It has finally realised that there are 91 million evangelical Christians in America.”

Directors are even inviting pastors to watch screenings before the films are released. Websites have also been created for church leaders to download clips to show to their congregations.

Television series The Bible shown on the History channel pulled in an average 11.4 million viewers and was America’s most watched cable show in 2013.

malita@observer.ug