(Photo: Joe Alblas)
The History Channel's "The Bible," a television miniseries produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett that concluded on March 31 Easter Sunday with strong ratings, is now out on home video.
The 10-hour epic miniseries is being sold on The History Channel's website; DVD is for $60 and Blu-ray for $70.
The four-disc set comes with hours of behind-the-scenes footage and special features: Burnett and Downey discuss the difficulties of filming and casting the miniseries; a look at the recording session for the soundtrack with composer Hans Zimmer and soloist Lisa Gerrard; a montage of the production's visual effects; and "Believing in Miracles" – the cast and crew relive what they saw as magical moments that happened while filming in Morocco, according to USA Today.
The success of "The Bible," broadcast weekly between March 3 and March 31, resulted in The History Channel being the top cable network, both in total viewership and with adults ages 25 to 54, for that month.
Its finale, which featured Jesus' crucifixion, death, and resurrection on Easter, received 3.8 million viewers among adults ages 18 to 49 and 4.6 million viewers among adults ages 25 to 54, according to Nielsen ratings.
Deadline Hollywood pointed out that these figures represent a 12 percent and 18 percent rise from the previous week's numbers, and they also near the miniseries' premiere episode, which had record-breaking ratings numbering over 13 million.
Burnett, who is the creator of reality TV shows such as "Celebrity Apprentice," "Shark Tank," "Survivor" and "The Voice," and Downey, known for her 10-year role on the TV series "Touched By An Angel," thought of making the series based on Scripture about three years ago.
Burnett recently talked about the marketing of the miniseries. "The most important thing was grassroots and letting people know it was on. From a promotion point of view, the most important thing was to not allow any promotion that would not be taken right or didn't feel right. There's more of that managing what not to do than what we did," he told Zap2it.
"It really is in God's hands," he added. "There's no way that we could have planned years ago that it would be airing Easter Week. There's no way we knew that History would agree to air 10 hours over five weeks versus over 10 weeks. There's no way anybody could have predicted that the Holy Father would retire before he passed, and that there would be a new pope elected during the run of the series, and on and on and on."
Downey earlier told The Christian Post that "The Bible" was a "passion project" for her and her husband. "I've loved Jesus all my life."
Downey, who apart from being co-producer played the part of Mary, the mother of Jesus, explained that casting for the miniseries would have been impossible without prayer.
Interviewed in October by best-selling author and Pastor Rick Warren for a taped segment shown during a business summit at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., Burnett said, "I have had great fear, but my fear isn't of the failure of the project. It's looking back later having done nothing. It's a very serious fear. The fear of not making a meaningful contribution, of being insignificant, of looking back [and thinking] that I didn't step up. I am honestly petrified of that, or I was, and my pain of feeling like I let myself down, my family down, and not taking the risk to do it was far greater than the pleasure of being calm."
The miniseries has made a significant impact. The Motion Picture Corporation of America is now reportedly producing a $20 million, six-hour miniseries serving as a spinoff of "The Bible," titled "Jesus of Nazareth."
"We believe the audience continues to have a hunger for life- and faith-affirming films," Michael Landon Jr., a Christian producer and writer for "Jesus of Nazareth," recently told The Hollywood Reporter. "The monumental success of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's 'The Bible' just underscores that," Landon added.