Variety magazine reports that cameras will start rolling on a new movie about the Resurrection of Jesus sometime in July, and it sounds like the key creative personnel may be a somewhat eclectic lot.
The key figure behind the film seems to be producer Bill McKay, who has been talking publicly about this project since at least October 2008. Back then, he said he had been brought onto the picture by Sony, which prompted me to wonder if this was the same Resurrection movie that Sony’s Screen Gems division had been developing with Tim LaHaye. But Variety says the current film will be released next year by Samuel Goldwyn, the secular distributor that has handled such evangelical hits as Facing the Giants (2006) and Fireproof (2008), and there is no mention of LaHaye or Sony or Screen Gems anywhere in the article.
Also involved in the new movie is executive producer J. David Williams, who was head of Providence Entertainment when they released the first-ever evangelical Christian movie to earn a place in the nation’s weekly box-office top ten list. I refer, of course, to the end-times thriller The Omega Code (1999).
But perhaps the most interesting name associated with the new movie — which goes by the title The Resurrection of the Christ — is director Jonas McCord, whose credits include The Body (2001), which starred Antonio Banderas as a priest who investigates the possibility that an archaeologist may have discovered the bones of Jesus and thus disproved the Resurrection.
Variety says Dan Gordon, whose credits include The Hurricane (1999) and The Celestine Prophecy (2006), is writing the script “with a focus on the power, greed and ambition of those involved in the crucifixion — Pontius Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas and Judas.”
This raises an interesting question: How much of the movie will take place before the Resurrection and how much of it will take place after the Resurrection? Most films about Jesus have not paid a lot of attention to the Resurrection itself, and with perhaps some justification, since the gospels don’t necessarily go into a whole lot of detail about it either; in Mark’s version, some women find an empty tomb and a man who gives them a message, and that’s pretty much it. But a film that bills itself as being specifically about the Resurrection — indeed, McKay has even called this film “kind of a sequel” to The Passion of the Christ (2004), which ended with the risen Jesus stepping out of the tomb — would presumably have to focus more heavily on the the stuff that happened afterwards. The stuff that happened before the Resurrection has already been done to death (uh, so to speak) in countless other films.
Incidentally, McKay’s most significant screen credit to date is the Billy Graham biopic Billy: The Early Years (2008), which he co-wrote and produced. Make of that what you will.