Ever since The Passion of the Christ and its grisly depiction of the Crucifixion came out 15 years ago, audiences have been asking for a follow-up about the Resurrection.
Several movies went into development in the immediate aftermath of Mel Gibson’s box-office hit, but only one — Risen, released in 2016 — was actually filmed in the end. (The film’s distributor even released a video emphasizing the links between The Passion and Risen, in effect treating the latter film as a sort of unofficial sequel to the former film.)
Shortly after Risen came out, Gibson said he, too, was working on a movie about the Resurrection — though he hasn’t said anything about that project since.
And of course, we can’t forget the small screen, where Mark Burnett and Roma Downey produced a short-lived series — 2015’s A.D. The Bible Continues — that began with the first Easter and then went on to dramatize the first ten chapters of the Book of Acts.
Now, it seems, another set of filmmakers is going to have a go at the Resurrection.
Lionsgate — the studio that distributed The Shack and I Can Only Imagine — announced today that it is teaming up with the makers of the latter film to produce a slate of “faith-based” films, including a Bible-movie trilogy (billed as “a new cinematic universe of Biblical stories”) that will kick off with Apostles: Resurrection of Christ.
The film is one of several that are being developed for Lionsgate by Kingdom Studios, a company co-founded last year by I Can Only Imagine directors Jon and Andrew Irwin and their producer Kevin Downes. (That’s them in the picture at the top of this post; I interviewed Jon Erwin when I Can Only Imagine came out last year.)
The entire press release is posted below. But for now I note that it sounds like this trilogy will aim to do, on the big screen, what A.D. tried to do on the small screen: start with the Resurrection and proceed from there through at least some of the Acts of the Apostles. (If my supposition is correct, then Apostles could end up overlapping with last year’s Paul, Apostle of Christ, which was released by Sony, the studio that distributed Risen.)
I also note that, while it seemed last year like the Bible-movie genre might have fizzled out, this is now the third new Bible movie that has been announced this year, following DeVon Franklin’s The Garden, about the Garden of Eden, and Arise, based on the story of Deborah in Judges 4-5. Here’s hoping they all get past the development stage!
And now for the press release:
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KINGDOM STUDIOS ANNOUNCES UPCOMING FILM SLATE WITH LIONSGATE
ANNOUNCEMENT MARKS UNPRECEDENTED SLATE OF FAITH FILMS WITH GOAL OF RELEASING TWO MOVIES EACH YEAR
SANTA MONICA, Calif., March 27, 2019 – Kingdom Studios, founded late last year by the creators of I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, the sleeper hit and top grossing independent film of 2018, unveiled an unprecedented slate of faith based film projects to be developed and produced by Kingdom and released through their recently announced partnership with global content leader Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF.A, LGF.B).
During a two-hour, keynote event held to formally reveal the studio slate at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Anaheim, Kingdom brought several special guests to the stage including the rousing Grammy Award-winning musical group for KING & COUNTRY, pastor Greg Laurie, #1 selling music artist Jeremy Camp, whose life story will be the focus of an upcoming Kingdom biopic, and a special taped message from Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Chairman Joe Drake, among others.
Kingdom Studios co-founders and acclaimed directors Jon Erwin and Andrew Erwin (I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, WOODLAWN) told the packed convention center crowd that their new company was already ramping up production on the slate, developing much of the material in-house while also working with talented storytellers. They said their growing team is focused on developing and producing inspirational and aspirational family entertainment. Kingdom will deliver event movies for the faith audience with the goal of releasing two theatrical releases each year.
“The dream of Kingdom Studios is simple: to create a media company dedicated to telling life-changing stories by empowering incredible artists and creatives,” said Jon Erwin.“We are excited to partner with global content leader Lionsgate to make that dream a reality,” said Kingdom Studio Co-Founder and Producer Kevin Downes.
“Lionsgate is built on the very idea of delivering all audiences stories that inspire, uplift and entertain. The films that Kingdom has unveiled today add an exciting new dimension to our already existing commitment and relationship within the faith community. Together, our unprecedented partnership will ensure these films have the full resources, strength and support of our studio to amplify Kingdom’s existing vision while reaching the widest possible audience globally,” said Drake. “Jon, Andrew, and Kevin are filmmakers who are completely dedicated to their craft and have established a strong relationship with an audience by consistently delivering high quality films and doing it with an intimacy that is very special to witness. Lionsgate is beyond thrilled to work in partnership with this team and their company to help build from and expand that reach and message even further. Now more than ever is a time when we need films like these and a company like Kingdom.”
The keynote marked the first time a studio-backed production company announced a slate of films it was producing for the faith audience.
The first film for Kingdom Studios, as previously announced, is I STILL BELIEVE. Scheduled for release on March 20, 2020, the inspirational drama chronicles the true-life story of Christian music mega-star Jeremy Camp. His remarkable journey of love and loss proves there is always hope in the midst of tragedy and that faith tested is the only faith worth sharing. The film is written by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn, directed by The Erwin Brothers and will be produced by Kevin Downes.
New films announced by Kingdom Studios include:
JESUS REVOLUTION which tells the true story of a national spiritual awakening in the early 1970’s and its origins within a community of teenaged hippies in Southern California. The film will be produced in association with pastor Greg Laurie. Written by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn, the film will be directed by Jon Gunn (THE CASE FOR CHRIST, LIKE DANDELION DUST) and produced by Kevin Downes and the Erwin Brothers.
Downes also introduced a trilogy of films inspired by the Bible that will create a new cinematic universe of Biblical stories. “The best-selling book of all time is the perfect source material for the most gripping character-driven cinematic universe ever undertaken,” said Downes. The first film in the trilogy will be APOSTLES: RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. The film will be written by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn and directed by The Erwin Brothers. Kevin Downes will produce.
To end the keynote, the team gave a sneak peek into a film that has just entered development. THE DRUMMER BOY is a period musical being developed in association with the faith-based musical group for KING & COUNTRY, the two-time Grammy Award winning duo who have garnered four No. 1 singles (“joy,” “Priceless,” “Fix My Eyes,” and “Shoulders”), nine Top 10 hits, and had songs featured on the Emmys, Super Bowl, Sunday Night Football and many other high-profile events, including performances on The Tonight Show, Today and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Introducing the film and the band, Andrew Erwin described the film as something “never seen before in the faith space that will surprise and delight audiences everywhere.” The film is currently in the early stages of development and will be written and directed by the Smallbone Brothers, co-written by Richard Ramsey (The Song) and produced by Kevin Downes and The Erwin Brothers. Luke Smallbone will serve as an executive producer.
Kingdom Studios’ executives include Jon Erwin, Andy Erwin, Kevin Downes (together, the trio has created films such as I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, WOODLAWN, STEVE MCQUEEN: AMERICAN ICON) and Tony Young (I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, THE SONG). Kingdom Studios has operations in both Los Angeles and Nashville.
ABOUT KINGDOM STUDIOS
From the creators of I CAN ONLY IMAGINE comes Kingdom Studios, a new entertainment content company in partnership with Lionsgate. Helmed by Jon Erwin, Andy Erwin, Kevin Downes and Tony Young, the company endeavors to create life-changing content from a variety of talented storytellers.
The first major new studio in decades, Lionsgate is a global content platform whose films, television series, digital products and linear and over-the-top platforms reach next generation audiences around the world. In addition to its filmed entertainment leadership, Lionsgate content drives a growing presence in interactive and location-based entertainment, gaming, virtual reality and other new entertainment technologies. Lionsgate’s content initiatives are backed by a nearly 17,000-title film and television library and delivered through a global licensing infrastructure. The Lionsgate brand is synonymous with original, daring and ground-breaking content created with special emphasis on the evolving patterns and diverse composition of the Company’s worldwide consumer base.
March 28 update: Here is video of the keynote event where the Kingdom Studios slate was announced; the bit about Apostles starts around the 58-minute mark:
The creators of I Can Only Imagine have some really BIG news to share today about their new venture with Lionsgate called Kingdom Studios. Discover the heart of this new movie studio and enjoy LIVE musical performances from for KING & COUNTRY and Phil Wickham.
Posted by The Shack on Wednesday, March 27, 2019