Risen — which tells the story of a Roman centurion who goes looking for the missing body of Jesus — doesn’t come out for another three months, but the producers are already screening the film for pastors and other grassroots church types.
Now Rich Peluso, senior vice-president of Affirm Films, has given an interview that seems to confirm some theories I’ve had about the origins of this film.
My basic theory is that Risen grew out of a project called Risen: The Story of the First Easter that was initiated by Hyde Park Entertainment in 2007. The film was then called Resurrection and was being developed by LD Entertainment when I next heard about it two years ago. It was then called Clavius — after the name of the film’s protagonist — by the time cameras started rolling last year. And it was then called Risen again when Sony/Affirm agreed to distribute the film earlier this year.Peluso says he first came across this project shortly after Sony created its “faith-based” division Affirm Films in 2007, and then the project “disappeared” for a while. Then, a year or two ago, LD Entertainment sent him the script for Clavius, and he realized after reading just one page that it was the same script he had seen before.
That matches the basic timeline of my theory, but with one possible hiccup: Peluso says the script he read in 2007 was called Resurrection, rather than Risen: The Story of the First Easter. This is easily explained, though: He might be retconning things, applying one of the project’s later names to an earlier phase of its development. Or he might be confusing Risen with Tim LaHaye’s The Resurrection, which was in development at Screen Gems — another Sony division — at that time.
Peluso makes it sound like Sony was involved with actually producing the film, though as far as I can tell, Sony only came on as a distributor after the film was already basically made. In any case, he says this is the biggest-budget, widest-release film that Affirm Films has ever been associated with, and he adds that this is the first film of theirs to be released under the more mainstream Columbia Pictures label.
You can listen to the interview, via The Church Boys’ Freefall Q&A podcast, below: