When there's money to be made, Hollywood always invests. And thanks to the unprecedented success of The Shack, which has already grossed over $80m, studios and production companies all over town are now scrambling to unearth the next script that will drive Christians to the box office. Through our contacts in Los Angeles, we've been able to learn of just a few of the major movie projects now in development which aim to mass-monetise the Christian subculture. While some of them represent surprising creative choices, there's little doubt that if these projects ever make their way onto the big screen, movie theatres across the US will be filled to bursting with excited and faith-filled viewers.
Left Behind (2019)
Undeterred by two failed attempts to launch a major cinematic franchise around Tim LaHaye and Jerry B Jenkins' inexplicably popular rapture novels, Hollywood is gearing up for a third swing. Recast as a teen drama, the action will centre around a group of 'tribulation saints' led by Ray Jr (Justin Bieber), who take on the Dracula-esque Nicolae Carpathia, played by a heavily-made-up Stephen Baldwin. Bieber's performance, which is mainly made up of concert footage and photographic stills, is said to be 'brief'. Baldwin has already signed on for 15 sequels.
A fly-on-the-wall documentary follows semi-disgraced megachurch pastor and one-time darling of the Reformed movement Mark Driscoll as he continues his rehabilitation from allegedly monstrous controlling behaviour. Although the film is already partially-shot, production has stalled several times after its Writer/Producer/Director/Star fired key crew members for being 'a bit girly' and not liking cage-fighting. Rumours that the film may be re-titled 'You will call me Pastor Mark' are as yet unconfirmed.
Possibly the edgiest Christian film ever pitched, this collaboration between Christian romance novelist Francine Rivers and horror production company Blumhouse details the Old Testament story of David and his quest to deliver 200 Philistine foreskins to Saul in return for his daughter's hand in marriage. Early production notes for the film suggest the latex budget alone will be well over $1 million.
In a dystopian future, the hope of the free world rests in the hands of a group of bearded pastors with Apple Mac addictions and a serious commitment to pretentious coffee. The story follows the group as they attempt to take down a totalitarian regime by writing blogs, starting twitter hashtags and demanding a return to 'authenticity', before eventually getting a bit bored and selling out to the Man.
Carman vs Bibleman: Dawn of Worship
A somewhat crude attempt to cash in on the success of the lucrative Marvel and DC superhero franchises. This big-budget action blockbuster, already scheduled to open against Marvel's fourth Avengers film in Summer 2019, pits straight-to-video Scripture defender Bibleman, whose powers include a superhuman desire to know God, against 1980s CCM icon Carman, best known for his Rocky-style 'Champion' music video. Early drafts of the script see the two locked in a dispute over their differing interpretations of Ephesians 3, before joining forces against the evil threat of a popular universalist theologian.
The quest for affirmation
A ground-breaking idea, this: a prominent blogger (who we won't name for fear of enlarging their platform) will present the first film in history to be shot entirely in selfie mode. In a wide-ranging 99-minute video blog, they'll explain why millennials are leaving our churches in droves, bemoan the proliferation of white male leadership voices, and explain why millennials are leaving our churches in droves. The film will be funded by a $4 million Kickstarter fundraising campaign, which at time of writing stands at $1.2.
Benny Hinn: The IMAX 3D experience
Cameras follow infamous faith healer Hinn on his 13-night 'Our Souls Arise' tour across America's Deep South. A huge special effects team has been drafted in to add extra light and sound effects to Hinn's trademark 'power healings', where members of the public are literally thrown across the stage by the power of the Holy Spirit. The highlight: a nightclub 'pray-off' between Hinn and rival deliverance minister Todd 'Bam' Bentley.
We should stress at this point that despite our best attempts, we were unable to confirm the release dates, official cast and crew, or even the existence of these projects. But what a glorious thought that alongside all the trashy rom-coms and schlocky horror movies, we might soon see the Christian message pronounced loudly and clearly through the ministry of movies such as those listed above.