One session at the recent Variety PURPOSE Family Entertainment and Faith-Based Summit featured some of the faith-based projects that are in various stages of development. It began with a clip from The Preachers, which recently had a three week test run on the Fox Network with the possibility of being picked up. It is a daytime talk show with four African-American megachurch pastors. It was described by Stuart Krasnow of Warner Bros. Television as “essentially The View with four preachers”.
Perhaps best known of the projects discussed is Ben-Hur, the remake based on the Lew Wallace novel that opens later this month. Then in September Hillsong – Let Hope Rise will be released. Angela Jollivette of the Grammy Awards noted that this is the Australian bands crossing over into film and expanding its brand into new categories.
They screened a trailer for Vanished: Left Behind – Next Generation. It is a renewal of the Left Behind franchise with very clear targeting of a young adult audience. The films’ producer, Dave Alan Johnson, described the concept as “Twilight meets The Walking Dead and Revelation”.
A film coming out soon that may well be below people’s radar (even though it is a Disney film with a very strong cast) is Queen of Katwi, the true story about a girl in Uganda who becomes a chess champion.
Perhaps the project that appealed most to me was Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson and coming out later this year. It is the story of a conscientious objector who served as a medic in World War II and won the Medal of Honor at the Battle of Okinawa.
Among other projects mentioned were Same Kind of Different than Me coming out in February, the film version of The Shack, and an animated nativity story, The Star.