Hollywood is — if nothing else — a land of over-stuffed bandwagons, and as studio suits begin to tire of super-sizing fairy tales, the latest micro-trend in “let’s-try-launching-this-kind-of-franchise” appears to be feature films based on the Bible.
The first, director Darren Aronofsky’s take on Noah, just recently wrapped filming in Iceland with Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, and Anthony Hopkins. The rest of the Bible-based projects remain in some stage of development without an official greenlight, but many have A-list names hovering around them. According to Deadline, there are two possible films about Moses, with Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg respectively circling the directors’ chairs. Will Smith is reportedly eyeing the story of Cain & Abel as his directorial debut. Paul Verhoeven is developing a biopic about Jesus, based on Verhoeven’s own book and research, that strips away all the miracles of the New Testament. Most recently, screenwriter Vera Blasi (Woman on Top) penned a script about Pontius Pilate — i.e. the man who condemned Jesus Christ to the cross — that was just snapped up by Warner Bros.
But that is just scratching the surface when it comes to Bible stories that are ready-made for the big screen, especially in the Old Testament. In the interest of providing Hollywood with even more half-baked ideas, my colleague Darren Franich and I humbly suggest the following ecclesiastical tales as sure-fire potential box office blockbusters:
Adam and Eve
Directed by: Terrence Malick
The master of existential naturalism tackles the tale of the first man (Game of Thrones‘ Kit Harington) and woman (Carey Mulligan), as they deal with the temptation to partake from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Featuring Sean Penn as the voice of the Devil and God.
Jonah and the Whale
Directed by: Danny Boyle
As punishment for fleeing from God’s command, Jonah (Christian Bale) is swallowed whole by a giant whale, and must spend three nights and days inside its belly — and contending with his own tortured soul.
Walls of Jericho
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Played by Luke Evans (Immortals), Joshua leads the Israelites in the conquest of Canaan — even as he grapples with the morality of God’s command to do so – culminating with a bloody battle at the titular fortifications.
Daniel in the Lions Den
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda 2)
In this animated tale from DreamWorks Animation, with music and lyrics penned by Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights), a studious boy (voiced by Jaden Smith) finds himself far from home, and contending with a pack of lions (voiced by Martin Short, Alan Cumming, and Nicki Minaj) who may help him, or eat him.
The King David Saga
Directed by: David Yates
This trilogy follows the rise and tragic fall of one of the Old Testament’s biggest figures, David (Michael Fassbender). Part one, subtitled The Fall of Goliath, chronicles David’s journey from a young, plucky shepherd into a military hero who fells the outsized champion of the Philistines (played by a CG-enhanced Joe Manganiello). Part two, subtitled, The Sword of Saul, follows David’s contentious relationship with his father-in-law, King Saul (Ben Kingsley), culminating with David winning the throne of Israel. Part three, subtitled The Rise of Solomon, depicts David’s complex relationship with Bathsheba (Natalie Portman); married to Uriah (Oscar Isaac), she is seduced by David, and bears his child, Solomon. The illicit pairing displeases God, and David’s family begins to crumble around him. Ultimately, however (and because the ending of a major Hollywood trilogy cannot be a complete downer), the grown Solomon (Nicholas Hoult) takes the throne.
Okay, your turn!
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