'Risen,' New Movie About Jesus' Resurrection, Linked to Mel Gibson's Massively Successful and Gritty 'Passion of the Christ'

Joseph Fiennes ('Shakespeare in Love') stars as Clavius in the 2016 film, 'Risen.'
Joseph Fiennes ("Shakespeare in Love") stars as Clavius in the 2016 film, "Risen." | (Photo: screengrab)

Will "Risen," an upcoming movie about the events following the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, prove as successful as Mel Gibson's gritty and controversial "Passion of the Christ," the top-grossing Christian movie of all time?

"Passion of the Christ," Gibson's 2004 blockbuster, is known for its gory and controversial presentation of Jesus' crucifixion. The film, slapped with an R-rating, won numerous awards after its release and remains the most successful Christian movie ever in terms of box office gross ($611 million worldwide).

The multitude of faith-based films that have since followed Gibson's work have failed to surpass the director's 2004 project, including last year's much hullabalooed "rival," "Son of God" (see a comparison here).

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Steven Mirkovich, best known for his editing work on 2004's award-winning "Passion of the Christ," is at the helm once more for the new biblically-inspired film, "Risen."

A scene from the 2016 film 'Risen.'
A scene from the 2016 film "Risen." | (Photo: screengrab)

"Risen" takes an imaginative approach to the New Testament accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, who the Bible describes as being resurrected from the dead three days later. The new film is told from the perspective of a fictional top Roman military official who oversees Jesus' death on a cross.

The unbelieving tribune, named Clavius, is commanded by Pontius Pilate "to find the body, dispel rumors of a risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem," according to a press release. Clavius is assisted in his mission by Lucius, another "abiblical" character. Lucius is portrayed by Tom Felton, popular for his role as the pernicious Draco Malfoy in the "Harry Potter" film series.

The press release itself presents "Risen" as a sort of continuation to "Passion of the Christ," although promoters do not directly refer to the film by its name: "Twelve years after the blockbuster film about Jesus' crucifixion and many others like it, RISEN picks up where that film dropped off in the biblical story of Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension."

Although "Risen" takes dramatic license, creators insist that the 2016 film will maintain a "faithful scriptural treatment of the story." That particular aspect, in addition to the skeptical perspective of the film and the promoters' intended "outreach to a coalition of leading Protestant and Catholic influencers," will purportedly draw "wide audiences" to theaters to watch "Risen."

Whatever its fate, the official trailer for "Risen" certainly hints at an epic-like presentation of the biblical account — a story that will likely continue to be recast on film and on TV.

Cliff Curtis ("Live Free or Die Hard" and "Training Day") stars as Jesus, while Joseph Fiennes ("Shakespeare in Love") plays Clavius, and Peter Firth ("Pearl Harbor") portrays Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea who, according to the Bible, sentenced Jesus to death.

"Risen," slated for a January 2016 major release, is produced by LD Entertainment and distributed by TriStar Pictures/AFFIRM Films. The film is produced by Mickey Liddell, Patrick Aiello and Pete Shilaimon, and executive produced by Robert Huberman and Scott Holroyd. The screenplay was written by Kevin Reynolds and Paul Aiello, with the story credited to Aiello.

Watch the trailer for "Risen" in the video player below:

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