Kevin Reynolds to direct latest Resurrection-themed movie

You can’t make a hit film or TV show without inspiring legions of imitators, so it’s no surprise that, when The Bible racked up some record TV ratings earlier this year, a gaggle of filmmakers announced that they were going to make biblical movies of their own.

In one blog post back then, I noted that various producers were developing no less than four separate movies that will deal specifically with the 40 days between the Resurrection of Jesus and his Ascension into heaven — and that’s not counting the big-screen version of The Bible itself (which comes out next year and will reportedly emphasize the Resurrection as well).

Now a sixth film has entered the fray — and it may be a project that was first put in motion during the previous Bible-movie development craze, which followed yet another hugely successful Bible film, i.e. The Passion of the Christ (2004).

The Hollywood Reporter says a production company called LD Entertainment has hired Kevin Reynolds to direct a movie called Resurrection.

Reynolds is best-known for directing Kevin Costner in Fandango (1985), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Waterworld (1995) and the TV mini-series Hatfields & McCoys (2012); his projects without Costner have included The Beast (1988), Rapa Nui (1994), One Eight Seven (1997), The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) and Tristan + Isolde (2006). He also co-wrote the original Red Dawn (1984).

The most recent draft of the Resurrection screenplay was written by Reynolds and Karen Janszen, the latter of whom counts such faith- and family-friendly films as A Walk to Remember (2002) and Dolphin Tale (2011) among her credits.

But what’s interesting about this story is that the first draft of the Resurrection screenplay was written by someone named Paul Aiello, whose name came up six years ago as the screenwriter behind Risen: The Story of the First Easter.

That film was going to be produced by Hyde Park Entertainment, and it was going to focus on the apostle Peter as it covered the 50 days between the Resurrection and Pentecost. But the Hollywood Reporter says this film will focus on an agnostic Roman centurion who is told by Pilate to find the missing body of Jesus during the 40 days between the Resurrection and the Ascension.

Did the old film morph into the new one, or are these two completely separate projects? I’m guessing the former, given that Aiello’s brother Patrick was an executive at Hyde Park back then and is now listed as one of the producers on the new film. I’m guessing he took the project with him when he left his former job.

In any case, LD Entertainment is apparently describing Resurrection as an “all-ages movie” that is also “Gladiator in tone”, which sounds like a contradiction in terms, given all the gritty R-rated violence in Gladiator, but anyhoo.

The plot, as described here, is also somewhat reminiscent of The Inquiry (1986), in which the emperor Tiberius sends someone to investigate the events surrounding the death of Jesus; that film was remade as The Final Inquiry (2006), and the remake even brought back The Passion of the Christ’s Hristo Shopov as Pontius Pilate.

The Hollywood Reporter also says that Resurrection will show Pilate ordering his centurion to find the missing body of Jesus “in order to subdue an imminent uprising in Jerusalem,” which makes me wonder who, exactly, would be behind the uprising. The Christians pretty much kept out of the public eye between the crucifixion of Jesus and the first Pentecost, so who else could Pilate have been worried about?

We may not have to wait too long to find out: Variety says the studio is thinking of finishing the film in time for Easter 2015, which is only a year and a half away.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • brnicolosi

    I haven’t read this script but I read three of the others on the resurrection and they were all pretty dreadful. It was so clear they were just trying to capitalize on the success of The Passion of the Christ, and weren’t really being written with any particular point of view or insight in to the Resurrection narratives. I read one that came from a believer who clearly cared about the story, but it was so bad in craft that it made me shudder as much as the ones that came from the pen of people who really could care less about Jesus. Finally, there is an amazing Resurrection script out there that I have read by two writers who happen to be devout and long-time professionals, but theirs hasn’t hit the development stage yet.

    Having been dragged through the impossible hell of getting a Biblical movie through the studio system, my feeling is that the system can only corrupt a project that has any theological merit and insight.

    In short, I don’t have much hope that any of these will be remarkable.


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