Editors note: this article was originally run at Mormons at the Megaplex. It is reprinted with permission.
After Hollywood’s golden era of Bible epics like The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur, religious cinema settled into a decades-long slump. Well-intentioned, but embarrassingly amateur, films dominated the genre, with a few rare exceptions. In 2004 The Passion of the Christ unlocked the market for ambitious faith-based movies, and since then the genre has been, if you’ll pardon the pun, born again.
The coming year is a promising one for religious cinema, with several big-budget offerings as well as independent films from proven filmmakers. Here’s what we have to look forward to.
SAINTS AND SOLDIERS: THE VOID (PG-13. August 15, 2014)
Director Ryan Little delivers his third film in the internationally-acclaimed series, this one dealing with race relations, along with faith and conscience, during World War II.
THE REMAINING (PG-13. September 4, 2014)
The Book of Revelation as a horror flick. That’s the premise here, as those not called up into heaven are left to deal with the unleashing of hell.
BELIEVE ME (PG-13, September 26, 2014)
In this Christian comedy a group of broke college students masquerade as televangelists to pay their tuition, but are ultimately moved by the faith and beliefs which they’re imitating.
LEFT BEHIND (Not yet rated. October 3, 2014)
Nicolas Cage and Back to the Future‘s Lea Thompson star in this end-of-days thriller, given the big-budget treatment by legendary Hollywood stunt coordinator (turned director) Vic Armstrong.
EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS (Not yet rated. December 12, 2014)
Gladiator director Ridley Scott brings the biblical story of Moses to the big screen with Christian Bale as the Hebrew hero and Joel Edgerton (Warrior) as Ramses. Expect creative license, bold visuals, and expert film-making; only time will tell if the movie will inspire. Co-starring Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro, and Aaron Paul.
MARY (Not yet rated. April 2015)
Reuniting a screenwriter and the composer of The Passion of the Christ, this film will cover the life of Jesus’ mother. Ignoring that the poster makes her look eerily like a ringwraith, this could be good. Julia Ormond (Sabrina, First Knight) and Ben Kingsley co-star.
THE COKEVILLE MIRACLE (Not yet rated. April 15, 2014)
17 Miracles and Ephraim’s Rescue director T.C. Christensen brings us the powerful true story of a 1986 suicide bombing in a Wyoming elementary school, in which only the bombers were killed and numerous children testified that they’d seen angels protecting them from harm.
REIGN OF JUDGES: TITLE OF LIBERTY (Not yet rated. Release TBD)
Ephraim’s Rescue star Darin Southam’s passion project is to tell the Book of Mormon story of Captain Moroni as a big-screen epic. The film is currently in the pre-production phase, but you can read the script, and learn how to support the movie, here.
Jonathan Decker is a licensed marriage and family therapist providing as well as . He is the co-host of on KJZZ-TV in Utah. His book, is from Cedar Fort Publishing. Jonathan reviews Hollywood films from a Latter-day Saint perspective at www.mormonsatthemegaplex.com. He is married with four children.