'Heaven Is For Real' Producers Hope Film Will Appeal to All Audiences

Apr 15, 2014 02:42 PM EDT
Heaven is for Real
(Photo: Heaven is for Real/Facebook)

The highly anticipated Christian drama "Heaven Is for Real" which opens Wednesday, is the latest of the multiple faith-based films released this year.

However, the producers of the film expect it to appeal to an audience far wider than just Christians, for it focuses on a question that holds unbiased relevancy: what happens when you die?

Based on the best-selling novel by evangelical pastor Todd Burpo, "Heaven is for Real" tells the story of a little boy who experienced a near-death experience that brought him face-to-face with Jesus Christ.

But star of the film Greg Kinnear says unlike many religious-based movies, "Heaven is for Real" isn't "preachy" or a "genre film."

"[The movie is] subtle and challenging," Kinnear stated, "this man has difficulty believing the things his son talks about. There is more conflict in this family's journey than I would have expected from a title as unambiguous as Heaven Is for Real."

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Bishop T. D. Jakes, one of the film's producers, told CBN News that while the film touches on a sensitive subject, it sends a hopeful message to viewers.

"I think this is a film that's a great opportunity to bring in the margin of our community that doesn't talk about faith or the afterlife. You walk away to believe that all things are possible."

Reverend DeVon Franklin, senior production exec for "Heaven Is for Real," wants the film to appeal to an audience bigger than just Christians.

"My hope is that it's going to appeal to the same demographic of the book, which was in the mainstream," said Franklin, the author of spiritual success book "Produced by Faith."

He believes that by appealing to a wider, non-religious audience, more film studio doors will be opened for religious films, as faith-based audiences are still underserved.

"The audience is saying and consistently saying this year ...we want more movies that are faith-affirming, that are life-affirming, that are uplifting, that are inspirational, that we can take our whole family to," Franklin stated.

The film has already garnered a strong following among Christian leaders.

Roma Downey, actress and producer of the successful mini-series "The Bible," has taken to social media to promote "Heaven is for Real," tweeting that she and husband, actor Mark Burnett, are "so excited" about the film.

Pastor Greg Linney of Chattanooga, TN says his church has already purchased tickets to see the film opening night.

"It's so exciting to see so many films produced this year that spread the Word of God," he said, "It's exciting to see Hollywood promote the name of Jesus, whether they know it or not."

Director and Screenwriter Randall Wallace asserts that at end of the day, he wants people to walk away from the film uplifted.

"I hope that people will find encouragement in knowing that doubt is not a sin," he stated, "We're not wrong to question; we're made to question. And we're loved as we are, even with all of our questions.

Heaven is for Real