- By Tre’ Goins-Phillips
- Published: March 5th, 2014
Burnett and Downey’s film premiered in theaters nationwide Friday, Feb. 28, making more than $5.2 million
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s “Son of God” took center stage in a big way at the Thursday night opening, rolling out with a $1.2 million premiere and $4 million in presales.
When the Los Angeles Times asked Burnett, one of the producers, about the film, he said, “Yes, it’s a movie, but it is more than a movie. This is an evangelizing tool.” Christine Caine, Australian pastor and founder of the A21 Campaign, a non-profit seeking to eliminate human trafficking and slavery in the 21st century, said, “It’s time for a fresh look at the ‘Son of God’ in a way that really connects with this generation.”
It has been nearly 50 years since the entire life of Jesus — from birth to resurrection — graced the camera reels in theaters across the nation. Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” told the story, “Son of God” proclaims the gospel, and everyone is talking about it. From names like Joel Osteen and Rick Warren to Kris Jenner and Brad Paisley, Jesus flick is rounding up support from every corner of pop culture.
Burnett and Downey’s “The Bible” miniseries boasted hundreds of thousands of viewers — 11.7 million tuned in on Easter Sunday alone last year. The miniseries put the Bible on a holy projectile, sparking interest across the nation in its wake. The powerhouse couple, self-described as the “noisiest Christians in Hollywood,” told “TheWrap” that “Son of God” will be seen by a billion people over the next four years. One thing is clear: Burnett and Downey have high hopes for the film and great faith in its message.
Liberty University has equally high hopes for the Bible blockbuster. The University bought out all 14 screens in the Regal River Ridge Stadium 14 Theater, hosting around 2,500 students for the midnight premiere.
When asked why Liberty did this, Johnnie Moore, the university’s senior vice president of communications, said, “Because our students think it is cool.” When Moore arrived at the Lynchburg theater, he tweeted, “Massive line of thousands of students coming to see Jesus on the big screen!”
He was right. The theater was filled with anticipation and high expectations. At the start of the Jesus epic, I knew something was different. The message was all the truth of Christ and the delivery was all the talent of Hollywood. From the film score to the elaborate set, “Son of God” was a beautiful presentation of Jesus’ life: birth to resurrection.
“As I was sitting in the theater at the midnight ‘Son of God’ premiere, I couldn’t help but think that I was a part of a moment in history,” Kelsey Baker, associate director for Liberty’s Office of Student Leadership, said. “I am so happy to be a part of a university that wants to support life-giving movies, wants to be a part of change and wants to spread the word about the good news of Jesus.”
This film is an opportunity for the unchurched to see the heartbeat of the Church. If you came to the movie, and you didn’t know anything about Jesus, you would really get a sense of the journey of his life.
Compassion International, a Christian relief group, purchased 225,000 tickets to screenings of the “Son of God” premiere and donated them to churches in 40 cities across the United States, reported the Los Angeles Times.
“Everything we do is about Christ, and we feel like this was a perfect opportunity for us to further the message of our savior,” Tim Glenn, Compassion’s communications director, said.
The film knocked the “Lego Movie” off of its three-week box office reign and is projected to bring in anywhere from $21 to $25 million, Dave McNary, a film critic for “Variety,” said.