Miracles From Heaven’

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment

Low budget and low risk, the genre is growing and attracting known names (Jennifer Garner, Ewan McGregor), yet still finding a very fine line between box office hit and thumbs-down heresy.

A version of this story first appeared in the April 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Hollywood has rediscovered religion. While movies long have trafficked in biblical epics — Paramount is readying the third big-screen Ben-Hur for August — a new wave of inspirational movies is hitting theaters this Lent. Some offer new takes on the gospels, while others serve up contemporary tales in which God intervenes in human events. And many are attracting stars and filmmakers who in the past wouldn’t have given such projects so much as a prayer.

Producer Joe Roth recalls how, in 2013, when he was assembling Heaven Is for Real, he met resistance. “At that time, if the casting agent says, ‘I want Brad Pitt,’ his agent says, ‘No, no. He’d never do a faith-based movie.’ There was definitely some of that,” says Roth.

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