The king of reality of television is presenting the “King of kings.” Reality TV mogul Mark Burnett is dipping his producing hand into the world of movies. Opening in theaters is Burnett’s “Son of God,” a full-length feature film focusing on the life of Jesus Christ.
Burnett and his producing partner and wife Roma Downey are bringing their version of the passion of Jesus and biblical story telling to a movie theater near you. Their first feature film is being released by 20th Century Fox and is opening on three-thousand screens nationwide. The movie expands on the couple’s highly successful History Channel mini-series, “The Bible.”
On a recent promotional tour in Philadelphia the couple talked about the realization that when they were filming the mini-series in Morocco they discovered that they had “something really extraordinary.” Downey says that is when they felt the inspiration and the need to take their project to the next level. Burnett reached out to 20th Century and the studio promised a wide-screen theatrical release in English and Spanish.
The creator of reality shows like “Survivor” and “The Voice,” Burnett says his movie marks the first film to focus on the entire life of Jesus in nearly four decades. Burnett calls his movie “a political thriller which features Pilate and the Romans, the Temple chief priests and Jesus and his disciples” and how all three forces collide in Jerusalem during Passover. Burnett says the film is “very tense, very real and an intimate, personal love story” which features not only the divinity of Christ but also the “humanity of Jesus.” The producer says what sets his movie apart from others is that “Son of God” makes people feel the humanness of Jesus who Burnett says was “a real guy, a strong leader and a person as well as God.”
Downey, who also portrays Mary the mother of Jesus in the movie, says the whole experience for her and her husband has been a blessing. “Imagine being able to do what you love to do. To combine it with what you believe and to do it with your very own spouse,” Downey confesses has not only deepened the couple’s faith and friendship but also their marriage. She jokes that “the real miracle is that we are still speaking with each other.”
The producers say they have worked with many religious leaders and denominations to get their blessings on the project. Washington, D.C. Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez have endorsed the movie along with Bishop T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen. Downey and Burnett also reached out to the Anti-Defamation League to insure they presented the story of Jesus in a manner that was sensitive and respectful to the Jewish community.
And while the king of reality television does not seem the likely candidate to bring the life of Jesus to the movie screen, Burnett, who confesses that he and Downey are among the “noisiest Christians in Hollywood,” says that his success with hit television shows like “The Voice,” “Survivor,” “Shark Tank,” and “The Apprentice” have afforded him the resources, experience and leverage to bring the “Son of God” to the Cineplex. The movie is rated PG-13 due mainly to the graphic scenes at the end of the movie depicting the crucifixion of Jesus.