The Jesus-movie genre is branching into a couple of high-tech formats this year.
Jesus Christ is coming to VR screens: Autumn Productions and virtual-reality production firm VRWERX have slated the release of “Jesus VR – The Story of Christ” for Christmas 2016.
The 90-minute film will be available on all major mobile and premium VR platforms including Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive, according to the companies. Pricing has not yet been set.
The film counts Fr. William J. Fulco, a consultant on The Passion of the Christ, as its religious advisor, and the script is by Andre van Heerden, who has produced and directed a lot of end-times movies, including the original Left Behind trilogy.
The film was shot in October 2015 entirely in 360-degree 4K video on location in Matera, Italy, the ancient village that was also the setting for “Passion of the Christ.” Producers promise a you-are-there VR experience for the entirety of Jesus’s life and death, from his baptism to the Sermon on the Mount, and from the Last Supper to his crucifixion.David Hansen, whose credits include “Hellion,” “Lovesong” and “Entertainment,” directed and produced the movie, alongside producers Johnny Mac and VRWERX’s Russell Naftal and Alex Barder. Hansen and Mac run Autumn Productions, the Toronto-based company that produced and financed the film.
The cast includes at least two actors who have already appeared in Jesus movies this year: Mish Boyko, who plays Peter, played John in Risen; and Matteo Carlomagno, who plays John in this film, played an “Ambusher” in The Young Messiah.
Tim Fellingham is playing the part of Jesus, while Rhys Howells is playing Judas.
Back in the 1990s, the Trinity Broadcasting Network produced a couple of films called The Revolutionary that were billed as “virtual reality” productions, but on VHS or DVD they seemed indistinguishable from other films. Reportedly the films were shown in a special “Virtual Reality Theatre”, but as near as I can tell, the theatre in question simply had high-definition projection and dozens of speakers.
Obviously, Jesus VR – The Story of Christ will be very different from that.