Heaven is for Real opens in US cinemas; Todd Burpo hopes film makes God speak to viewers' hearts

A movie about 4-year-old Colton Burpo's vision of Heaven opens in theatres across the US today.

Based on a bestselling book of the same name, 'Heaven is for Real' documents the real-life struggle of a family to come to terms with their young son's near death experience when it challenges their own understandings about life after death.

Colton was undergoing emergency surgery 10 years ago when he claims to have met Jesus, seen angels and watched Mary kneel before the throne of God.

He has also spoken of how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" to earth, and noted that God is "really big".

Colton's claims were only taken seriously, however, when he described meeting his great-grandfather who had died long before he was born, and a miscarried sister whom he had not even known about.

Following Darren Aronofsky's recent blockbuster Noah, which has seen Bible Apps reporting a 300 per cent increase in users looking up the Genesis story, Colton's father, Todd Burpo – a small town pastor from Nebraska – has spoken of his hope that Heaven is for Real will also encourage moviegoers to consider searching out Christ for themselves.

"I hope that when people see this film, God speaks to their minds and hearts," Todd told the Christian Post.

"We're not special. I just pray that they want Christ to be in their lives and realise that heaven could be a reality for them too.

Heaven is for Real has already received solid reviews: USA Today labels it "powerfully grounded in humanity" while the Baxter Bulletin notes that it "offers [a] thoughtful, real glimpse into 'Heaven'".

Another faith-based film, 'God's not Dead' starring Kevin Sorbo, also recently hit American cinemas and has surprised critics by smashing its box office targets. Despite having a budget of just $4 million - in comparison to Noah's $125 million - it remained in the top five films for three weeks, and has already raked in over ten times its original expenditure.

The 'Year of the Bible' is evidently in full swing, and is proving that there remains a seat at the Hollywood table for faith-based cinema.