'Heaven Is for Real' Headed for Hollywood With T.D. Jakes as Co-Producer

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By Eryn Sun, Christian Post Reporter
May 11, 2011|2:36 pm

Trailing on the heels of a recent box office success, Bishop T.D. Jakes is looking to produce another hit, this time with the help of a veteran Hollywood producer.

Set to co-produce with Joe Roth, former chairman of 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios, Jakes ventures to tackle next the current New York Times #1 Bestseller, Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back.

Written by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent, the true story chronicles Burpo’s now 11-year-old son’s near-death experience during an emergency appendectomy operation when he was 3-years-old.

Son of a small town Nebraska pastor, Colton survived to tell his at-first skeptical parents about his experience in heaven, sharing details that he would have never known about – like meeting his miscarried sister and his long-dead grandfather.

He also describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, the bloody wounds on Jesus’ palms, about how the Holy Spirit shot down power from heaven to help believers, and how “reaaaally big” God and His chair are.

Though the story is told through Colton’s eyes, the book is narrated by his father who decided to turn his son’s spiritual encounter into a 163-page inspirational book with a simple message – heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.

Order Online: Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

The Jake and Roth combination is sure to propel much interest already, with Roth’s “Alice in Wonderland” and “The Three Musketeers,” just to name a few, and Jakes’ recent “Jumping the Broom” in between the two.

Roth, having a wide range of films under his belt, shared his surprise that nobody in Hollywood had called before he had about the book, as sales were surpassing every expectation of the publisher –Thomas Nelson, Inc – and breaking company sales records in the millions.

The film executive told Deadline he became curious about the book, which reminded him of “The Sixth Sense,” after seeing it on The New York Times Bestseller Lists, about six weeks ago.

And just as the book made its way into mainstream audiences, Roth jumped on the chance to produce, predicting that it would sell 10 million copies before the year was over.

Deadline reported that Roth will soon meet with the Burpo family. Roth stated that he doesn’t believe the film will be limited to a faith-based audience.

“There isn’t anyone in the world who wouldn’t like to know what is waiting for them,” Roth shared with Deadline. “When you consider this little boy came back and knew 9 or 10 things that he shouldn’t have, to me, this is about hope. From that standpoint, it’s non-secular.”

Speculations that Sony Pictures has acquired the screen rights to the book are circulating, though Sony spokesperson Steve Elzer – senior vice president of Media Relations told The Christian Post he could not confirm that the book was acquired “quite yet.”

An announcement from Sony is likely to be made in the coming days.

Heaven Is for Real was purportedly brought in by Sony Pictures executive DeVon Franklin, a Christian minister who recently published a book entitled, Produced By Faith: Navigating the Road to Success Without Compromising Your True Self, according to Deadline.

Widely acclaimed already in the literary world, with the three millionth copy recently printed, the the book is expected to achieve nothing less on the big screen.

So how does 11-year-old Colton feel about all of the newborn success?

“People are getting blessed, and they’re going to have healing from their hurts,” he told The New York Times. “I’m happy for that.”

 

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