LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Picking up where the biblical story of Jesus Christ’s passion leaves off, Sony Pictures is angling for an Eastertime release of a feature film tentatively titled “The Resurrection,” people familiar with the project confirmed Wednesday.
Using the Bible for its source material, “Resurrection” will tell the story of Jesus Christ beginning the day he died on the cross and ending about 40 days later with his ascension into heaven.
According to insiders, Sony’s mid-budget Screen Gems division commissioned a script several months ago from Lionel Chetwynd, the veteran screenwriter, producer and director whose credits include the feature “The Hanoi Hilton” and the Emmy-nominated TV movie “Ike: Countdown to D-Day.”
Set to produce is Tim LaHaye, co-author of the best-selling “Left Behind” series of books. A popular minister and frequent TV news pundit, “Resurrection” will mark LaHaye’s first foray into mainstream filmmaking.
In mining biblical material, those behind the project hope to tap into the same vein that so richly rewarded Mel Gibson for his self-funded “The Passion of the Christ.” The 2004 release earned $612 million in worldwide box office receipts, making it one of the 30 most-popular films of all time.
“‘The Passion’ ends with Jesus being taken from the cross, and ‘The Resurrection’ opens with the empty cross,” a person familiar with the script said.
According to the Bible, women who visited the tomb of Jesus Christ three days after his crucifixion found it empty, and his disciples and other acquaintances, including Mary Magdalene, encountered him postresurrection on various occasions during a 40-day period.
The film will focus on these dramatic encounters and their implications for the Roman garrison in Judea and the broader Roman Empire, insiders said.
“This is not a fanciful rendering. It’s a serious attempt to understand the Roman world in which Christ moved and the Christian era was born,” a person familiar with the project said.