After the incredible success of Mark Burnett's mini-series, "The Bible," Hollywood has begun to produce a myriad of Biblically-based films ranging from the account of Noah to the apocalypse.
At the time, no one thought that a movie about the Bible was a good idea - for Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey, it was a step of faith that could have potentially ruined their careers. To everyone's surprise, however, the mini-series was watched by over 100 million viewers during its release. In an interview with Mark Driscoll at the Resurgence 2013 conference, Burnett joked that from that point on, everyone in Hollywood was seeking movie scripts that were based on the Bible. Burnett and Downey had actually overshot the film with so much extra footage that they plan to release "The Son of God," a movie about Jesus Christ's life, in February of 2014.
According to the Daily Beast, Hollywood plans to produce more movies based on the Bible this year than they have in the previous decade. Along with "The Son of God," which was picked up by Twentieth Century Fox, "Noah" is scheduled to be released in March and "Heaven is for Real" (which is not Biblically based, but has to do with heaven) is set for April. Ben Kingsley and Juilia Ormond will star in "Mary" and Christian Bale will play Moses in "Exodus" later this December. There are also some Biblically-based pictures to be released in 2015, including Brad Pitt's film about Pontius Pilate, Will Smith's movie about Cain and Abel, and two movies that are based on the apocalypse.
If some of the movies based on Old Testament texts are written by non-believers, they may not relay the thread of the salvation story which runs throughout the Bible. The great theme of God's word is that He would answer sinners' need for deliverance, and every story - whether Noah's escape from judgment on the Ark or David's slaying a giant to save the Israelites - points to the reality that God would ultimately save His people through providing Jesus Christ. The Messiah satisfied the wrath of God for our sins when He died on the cross bearing our iniquity, and God offers forgiveness all who receive Jesus as their Savior and acknowledge Him as Lord. "For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God," reads 2 Corinthians 5:21 (English Standard Version).
The producers of "The Bible" mini-series were very careful to have their film screened by a plethora of Christian leaders in an attempt to stay faithful to the Biblical narrative - an important task when producing a Biblically-based movie. Many Christians and Jews who previewed Darren Aronofsky's upcoming film, "Noah," however, were very disappointed to find that the movie had left out key elements of the Biblical text - like the fact that Noah preached to the men around him to repent from their sin and receive God's mercy (see 2 Peter 2:5). "With a $125 million budget, the film is said to be more of an edgy action epic that depicts a man who fights off his enemies as he prepares for a coming apocalypse, rather than a story of a ‘preacher of righteousness' who calls the world to repentance from sin," writes Heather Clark at Christian News.
Noah also reportedly has an environmentalist agenda and is guilt-ridden for having been one of few survivors of the flood. Thankfully, the film is said to have since been edited and will hopefully align more with the text.
Overall, Hollywood is taking a bit of a risk by creating movies based on the word of God; they might offend Christians and Jews, or repel non-believers. We can only pray for God to use them to bring more people to place their hope and trust in Jesus Christ.