(Editors note: This story was originally published by WND on Feb. 13. “The Son of God” is being distributed by 20th Century Fox and premieres on 3,254 screens nationwide Friday, Feb. 28.)
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – “Something extraordinary” was happening while executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey were filming their 2013 miniseries “The Bible.”
Not only were they creating an award-winning, cultural and entertainment industry phenomenon that would go on to become the best-selling TV miniseries on DVD of all time, but they were also seeing a new vision unfold – a vision of bringing Jesus to a “whole new generation” of moviegoers.
Downey explained to WND, “While we were shooting ‘The Bible’ series in Morocco, we had an editor on set with us; and as we were watching the footage on a regular basis, as the Jesus narrative began to unfold, we knew we had something extraordinary. So we shot extra footage and wanted to create a beautiful stand-alone experience that would focus on Christ Himself.”
That “stand-alone experience” will arrive in theaters on Feb. 28 in a much-anticipated new movie called “Son of God.”
Downey, who played the angel Monica on the TV series “Touched by an Angel,” was in Hollywood on Feb. 7 at the 22nd Annual Movieguide Awards to receive not only the coveted Epiphany Prize for “The Bible” miniseries, but also the Grace Award – given to the actor who delivered “the best, most inspiring performance expressing God’s grace and love toward us as human beings” – for her role as Mary, the mother of Christ, in “The Bible.”
“I just love the name of [the Grace Award],” Downey said. “I have tried to channel grace in my life, and I have been fortunate to be a messenger on ‘Touched by an Angel’ for 10 years, playing an angel and delivering a message of God’s love; and it was that same message we wanted to communicate in ‘The Bible’ series and now with our feature film, ‘Son of God.'”
“Most of Hollywood thought when ‘The Bible’ series ended that we were going to go away and just get back to doing our other shows,” remarked Burnett – Downey’s husband and a producer best known for reality TV shows such as “Survivor” and “The Voice” – at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month. “They were wrong, because we absolutely love Jesus.”
WND caught up with Downey on the red carpet and asked her why she and her husband pushed to birth a movie out of “The Bible” footage.
“Jesus has not been on the big screen for 10 years,” she replied. “Believe it or not, a decade has already passed since ‘The Passion of the Christ,’ and His entire life story hasn’t been shown on the big screen for almost 50 years, with ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told.’ So we really felt there’s a whole new generation that needs to see and feel this story in a big screen experience.
“The movie plays at about 2 hours, and it’s just beautiful,” she continued. “It’s big and epic and sweeping on the one hand, and yet it has this lovely intimacy on the other hand, and I know that it’s going to touch people’s hearts and bring people home.”
Whereas “The Bible” was a 10-part miniseries covering Genesis to Revelation and reportedly watched by 95 million cumulative viewers over the course of March 2013, “Son of God” is going to focus on the life of Christ during his roughly three and a half years of public ministry.
“Told with the scope and scale of an action epic,” a studio release claims, “the film features powerful performances, exotic locales, dazzling visual effects and a rich orchestral score from Oscar-winner Hans Zimmer.”
“This movie will be a blockbuster,” claims Carl Townsend, president of InService America, which has been contracted to call upon churches to coordinate group ticket sales for the film. “It illustrates both the human side of Jesus as well as his supernatural side as the Son of God.
“As I watched this movie,” Townsend said, “it showed how forgiving, caring and humble He was, plus how He touched them with His love and His ability to do supernatural acts that changed people forever.”
The trailer for the film includes a scene between Christ and Peter, the fisherman and would-be disciple, right after Jesus worked the miraculous catch of fish on the Sea of Galilee:
“Come with me,” Jesus says to the stunned fisherman.
“What are we going to do?” Peter asks.
“Change the world,” Jesus replies.
For Downey, through the fantastic success of “The Bible,” joining Jesus in changing the world may be the ultimate goal, but the actress told WND her hopes for “Son of God” begin with something much simpler.
“We have presented Jesus in a loving way,” she said, “and I just hope people of faith will fall in love with Jesus again and perhaps people who don’t know the Gospels will come and find their hearts open to our story that their lives might be touched and impacted.”
“Touched” – yet not by an angel this time, but by the Son of God.
See the trailer for “Son of God” below: