Newsbites: Two virtual-reality Jesus movies and a TV series!

Newsbites: Two virtual-reality Jesus movies and a TV series! September 6, 2018

Three quick news items regarding three upcoming Jesus-themed projects.

1. Remember Jesus VR? Billed not only as the first 360° Jesus movie, but as the first 360° feature-length film of any sort, it premiered at the Venice film festival two years ago, and then it… pretty much disappeared. But now comes word that it will begin rolling out on digital platforms tonight. According to the film’s official website, it will be available via iTunes tonight at 10pm EST / 7pm PST, and then it will be available via Google Play next month, Oculus Go in November, and so on. Why they’re staggering the release, I don’t know, but at least curious souls will have a chance to watch the film now.

2. The makers of Jesus VR (including producers Enzo Sisti and Rodrigo Cerqueira, the latter of whom now directs) have already moved on to their next film, and it’s… another 360° Jesus movie! This one is called 7 Miracles (read the press release here) and it is based on the first half of John’s gospel. One could infer from the announcement that this will be that rare Jesus film that does not depict his crucifixion… but I suppose it could still be included as a postscript (à la Last Days in the Desert). Other Bible-movie veterans involved in the film include Sara Lazzaro, who played the Virgin Mary in The Young Messiah and plays Martha here, and Lorenzo Balducci, who played Lazarus in the 2012 version of Barabbas and plays the apostle John here. Jesus himself is played this time by Serbian actor Dejan Bucin, who is 33. The film will premiere at the Raindance Film Festival in London next month, and is supposed to be publicly available later this year. We shall see. (Incidentally, how quickly forgotten was Jesus VR? So quickly that this story claims, incorrectly, that 7 Miracles is the first full-length virtual-reality movie!)

3. Last Christmas, Dallas Jenkins (director of The Resurrection of Gavin Stone and other movies) released a short film about the Nativity called The Chosen, and he said it was the first episode of a hopefully multi-season TV series that he wants to produce about the life of Jesus. (There have been miniseries about Jesus, and there was one season of A.D. The Bible Continues before it got cancelled — a few episodes of which depicted Jesus, though the series was primarily concerned with the period after Jesus’ ministry — but this would be the first multi-season series about Jesus.) Now VidAngel Studios has announced in a press release that they have rustled up over $4 million in crowdfunding, which they say puts them on track to beat the $5.8 million record set by Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The producers hope to raise $13 million in total for the first season, but they say they will go ahead with the first four episodes once they have raised $4.5 million. (As of this writing, they have raised $4.4 million.) You can watch the first episode below; Jenkins appears at the 19-minute mark to make his pitch to potential crowd-funders:

— The photo at the top of this post features Dejan Bucin playing Jesus in 7 Miracles.

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