Newsbites: The biblical spin-offs edition!

1. Universal Pictures, having scored a major international hit with the Abba-themed musical Mamma Mia! last year, is now developing a remake of Jesus Christ Superstar (1973). One director the studio has spoken to — though they’re not in active negotiations with anyone just yet — is Marc Webb, whose credits include numerous music videos as well as the current indie hit (500) Days of Summer. — Hollywood Reporter

2. The Lion of Judah is the first computer-animated feature to be made in South Africa, and it happens to concern a bunch of barnyard animals who witness the events surrounding the first Easter. The eclectic cast includes Ernest Borgnine, Sandi Patty and Bruce Marchiano, who played Jesus in the Visual Bible adaptations of Matthew (1993) and Acts (1994) and will apparently do so again for this film. The Lion of Judah doesn’t seem to have either a distributor or a firm release date lined up just yet, but in the meantime, you can watch a trailer for the film at its official website. — Variety, Cartoon Brew

3. Year One is coming to DVD and Blu-Ray in October — and the bonus features will include an “alternate ending” currently titled “Sodom Destruction”. Will there be pillars of salt? — IGN

4. Magdalena, the comics-based action flick about a modern-day superhero descended from Jesus and Mary Magdalene, now has a writer and a director. The writer is Holly Brix, whose credits include The Butterly Effect 3: Revelations; and the director is Ryûhei Kitamura, whose last film was Clive Barker’s Midnight Meat Train (2008). Hmmm. Jenna Dewan and Luke Goss are still attached to star. — Variety, Hollywood Reporter

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his award-winning film column for that paper, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He has also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005) and The Bible in Motion: A Handbook of the Bible and Its Reception in Film (De Gruyter, 2016).

  • RC

    if Holly Brix is who they acquired for Magdalena, i'm thinking this project will not be a big sensation. – that's just one reason I'm sensing that.