Casting news: The Shack! Miracles from Heaven! Ben-Hur!


Here are a few recent bits of casting news with a “faith-based” angle.

1. Sam Worthington has been cast as the lead in The Shack, Stuart Hazeldine’s adaptation of the William P. Young novel. Worthington will play a grieving father who meets God in the shack where the father’s murdered daughter was found. Octavia Spencer is already on board as one of the actors who will play God.

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Sundance Film Festival panels to discuss the sound design of a Jesus movie, and faith-based films in general

last_days_in_the_desertThe “year of the Bible movie” may have come to an end, but the genre — and the issues it raised — aren’t going away any time soon. For evidence of that, look no further than two panels coming up at the Sundance Film Festival, which starts later this week.

Exhibit A: The Dolby Institute is hosting ‘Last Days in the Desert: The Art of Sound Design and Music’, a panel that will look at Rodrigo Garcia’s film starring Ewan McGregor as Jesus and Satan, on January 27.

Dolby has awarded the film its Dolby Family Sound Fellowship, which “provides a range of postproduction resources to allow the fellowship recipient to fulfill the creative potential of the film’s sound design.” A Dolby press release states that the filmmakers “did a great job capturing the on-site soundscape of the desert,” and that the film was chosen partly for its “complex canvas and nuanced characters.”

The panel will be moderated by Glenn Kiser, director of the Dolby Institute, and it will feature Garcia as well as the film’s composers and two of its sound mixers.

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That studio that made Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is now working on an animated movie about the first Christmas

devonfranklinSony Pictures has had some success this year with “faith-based” films such as Moms’ Night Out, When the Game Stands Tall and Heaven Is for Real. Now their animation division is getting in on the action.

The Wrap reports that Sony Pictures Animation — the company responsible for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, The Smurfs and Hotel Transylvania — is teaming up with DeVon Franklin, a preacher and former Sony executive who now heads his own production company, to develop The Lamb, an animated version of the Nativity story featuring “an all-animal cast.”

If the film does get made, it would be only the second Bible-themed animated feature to be made by a major studio, following The Prince of Egypt, which was produced by DreamWorks in 1998 — though the independently-produced Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie also got a wide release in 2002.

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How the movie Heaven Is for Real contradicts the book

Is Heaven Is for Real a “Christian movie”?

The question may seem like a no-brainer, since the film is based on a best-selling Christian book and there has been a lot of talk in the media about the Christian faith of writer-director Randall Wallace and some of the film’s producers, including megachurch leader T.D. Jakes and studio executive DeVon Franklin.

But the film is still a product of corporate Hollywood, and as such, it alters the story in ways that are designed to appeal to a mass audience. The film thus lacks the authenticity of independent Christian films like, say, God’s Not Dead.

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