Son of God, the film produced by husband and wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, opens this Friday, Feb. 28, in theaters across the nation.
It is the second Bible-based production from Burnett and Downey. The first was The Bible, the history-making miniseries on the History Channel viewed by more than 100 million people last spring. In conjunction with the movie, LifeWay partnered with Rick Warren to release a companion Bible study.
Burnett, a five-time Emmy winner, is the creator of hit shows such as Survivor, The Voice, The Apprentice, and Shark Tank. Downey, an Emmy-nominated actress, is best known for her recurring role on the television program Touched by an Angel.
Facts & Trends caught up with Burnett and Downey to ask them about the movie and the Bible study, Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You.
F&T: Why did you feel it was important to bring Jesus to the big screen?
Mark: It’s been more than 50 years since a major Hollywood studio has released a film that covered the entire teachings and ministry of Jesus. And that is simply too long. Jesus’ story is one about love for all mankind, about the power of faith and forgiveness and sacrifice, and those are messages we need desperately in our culture today.
F&T: What is your hope for the theatrical release of this story?
Roma: That the name of Jesus be lifted up. We want to make Jesus famous, if you will, in the culture. Now that’s not superficial celebrity we’re talking about.
It’s helping to create a cultural environment in which we talk about Jesus and what He’s done in our lives with the same passion that we talk about our favorite sports teams or pop stars.
It’s shining the spotlight the only place it truly belongs: on the One who died so we might live. The One who loves us—all of us—radically and relentlessly. The One who is the Son of God.
F&T: Why was it important to have a companion Bible study for churches?
Mark: We don’t want the experience to end for audiences when the credits roll. We’re talking about Jesus here—the greatest teacher and prophet in history.
There is so much to learn from and apply to our everyday lives in the things He did and said. So the companion study is essential for congregations to dig deeper into the life lessons of Jesus’ ministry.
Roma: Mark and I certainly set out to make a good movie, but we want it to be much more than that, too. We want it to draw generations of people closer to Jesus, to know Him and to follow Him.
F&T: What does it mean to you to have Rick Warren working on the Bible study, Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You?
Roma: Rick is a dear friend, and he has been a source of strength and support to us from the very beginning as we developed the film. He has prayed with us, offered us great feedback on the script and ideas on the production and editing.
Mark: Now that I think about it, he probably ought to have an associate producer credit! Rick has not only been an advisor to us but a pastor to us, and a great friend. He challenged us to pray the most dangerous prayer you can pray: Use me! We prayed that prayer and look what happened.
Roma: There are few pastors in America more beloved or influential than Rick. So to have not only his blessing, but his input, on the film and the companion curriculum really helps ensure not only a quality motion picture experience, but a meaningful Bible study experience.