Relaymedia

'Son of God' Movie Starring Diogo Morgado as Jesus, Inspires #HotJesus on Twitter

( [email protected] ) Feb 28, 2014 05:21 PM EST
The Son of God movie premieres Friday in theaters nationwide. It is a compilation of scenes from the History Channel's "The Bible" miniseries and materials that didn't make the TV show.

The Son of God movie premieres Friday in theaters nationwide. It is a compilation of scenes from the History Channel's "The Bible" miniseries and materials that didn't make the TV show.

Produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, "Son of God" opens exactly 10 years after Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" debuted to a record-breaking, blockbuster opening of $83.8 million. 

Actor Diogo Morgao portrays Jesus in the first full-life story that tells of Christ' birth, his teachings, crucifixion and resurrection.

"Diogo was just sent to us," said Roma Downey. "He couldn't have been more perfect. And the beauty of his spirit shone through during our first meeting."

Related: Roma Downey Casts Out Satan in 'Son of God' 

Riding the wave of record-breaking popularity from "The Bible", which attracted 10 million viewers on the History Channel in 2013, Morgado has been called "Hot Jesus" on social media. His role as Jesus has inspired the hashtag #HotJesus, which has gone viral on Twitter.

In an interview with The New York Times, Morgado suggested that though his appearance shouldn't be the focus, it may make Jesus "more appealing" to a wider audience.

"It's a compliment, obviously," Morgado said, "but I don't want that to take away from what we tried to achieve. The best story is the story that gets to the most people. If the message of Jesus was love, hope and compassion, and I can bring that to more people by being a more appealing Jesus, I am happy with that."

U.S. megachurches and religious groups including Saddleback Church (Pastor Rick Warren), Lakewood Church (Pastor Joel Houston), Liberty University (Jerry Falwell Jr.) rented out multiple theaters near their campuses for members to watch the film together. It is reported that nearly half-a-million tickets are sold, accounting for nearly $4 million in sales ahead of Friday's release, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"In general media circles people can say that people get uncomfortable around God. But actually, more Americans as a community go to church than do anything else. More Americans go to church on Sundays than watch football," Burnett told FOX411. "Son of God' illustrates that in such a huge way that [this is what] Americans desire. Their hope. What does this nation stand for? The Bible and free enterprise are the two things that built the nation."

The married producing team of Burnett and Downey are working on another series called AD after "The Bilbe", which starts at the crucifixion and they hope Diogo will be in it. AD tells the dramatic story of what is going on in that first century.

"The disciples didn't know they were in the Bible. They were living their lives; they were following a charismatic leader who they think may be King David, and following them. It's only revealed much later that it's actually the Son of God. So very tense times, but in that epic scale there is this intimate, beautiful love story." Burnett added.