'Son of God': Jesus Returns to Big Screen 'As a Thriller'

Hollywood couple behind "The Bible" are hoping to parlay their success into a blockbuster.
3:00 | 02/18/14

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Transcript for 'Son of God': Jesus Returns to Big Screen 'As a Thriller'
For its latest source of inspiration Hollywood's looking back. Way back. To the most familiar of stories. It was the basis for a TV miniseries and saw huge ratings, bigger even than "Walking dead" or "Breaking bad." So it's only surprising that it's taken this long to see a new movie adaptation of the story of Jesus. One of number of big-budget efforts to bring the bible to the big screen. Here's ABC's David Wright. Reporter: Believe it or not, this is part of the marketing blitz for a major Hollywood movie. The critic that counts, the pastor of Lakewood church in Houston, Texas. Come on up and brag on you. Reporter: Televangelist Joel Osteen is no movie critic but his blurb could easily sell out a megaplex. The movie is coming out, "Son of god," in just a couple of weeks. So we're excited about that. What is his name? Reporter: This is the movie he's plugging. Jesus. His name is Jesus. Reporter: "Son of god." Due in theaters at the end of the month. A biblical blockbuster like we haven't seen in years. Jesus hasn't been on the big screen for ten years. Reporter: Actress Roma Downey and her husband, producer mark Burnett, are the creative team behind "Son of god." You may recognize her from the character she played in "Touched by an angel." I put some muscle in it. Reporter: As for mark Burnett, you've seen his work. ♪ he pioneered the genre of reality TV. The ultimate human experiment. Reporter: Creating "Survivor." His current hits also include "Shark tank" and "The voice." Last year Burnett and Downey switched gears, producing the miniseries "The bible" on the history channel. I will crush any rebellion. Reporter: A Sunday school epic that was wildly successful in its own right. I am coming soon. Reporter: So much so that on Twitter the hashtag hotjesus started trending. The bible was the number one miniseries of 2013, an audience that easily rivaled "Breaking bad," "Mad men," and "The walking dead." My favorite headline of the whole bible series was "God beats zombies." Beat walking dead. Yeah, our finale beat both "Game of thrones" premiere and the "Walking dead" finale. Reporter: Now the couple is hoping to parlay that success onto the big screen with "Son of god." Come with me. What are we going to do? Change the world. This thing that couldn't be further from reality TV. Is this redemption for you? You know, we obviously have a lot of hit shows. Without those other shows we probably wouldn't have got listened to and therefore we wouldn't be opening on 3,000 screens this movie "Son of god" on February 28th. Reporter: It's the first of several old-fashioned bible movies due out this year. There's also "Noah" starring Russell Crowe. Ridley Scott's "Exodus" with Christian bale playing Moses. And "Mary mother of Christ." All due out later this year. Behold his mighty hand! Reporter: There is a precedent, of course. Decades ago Charlton Heston led the way with "The ten commandments" and "Ben-hur." I grew up in Ireland, and I was raised on all those old bible movies. We would sit there on rainy Sunday afternoons on the couch lined up. You know, I believe I couldn't consider thinking about Moses and in some way remember Charlton Heston. They're hoping "Son of god" will be that for a new generation of moviegoers. We're aware that many people learn through visual storytelling, and for many people, people who don't go to church, people who maybe have never read the bible. This movie, "Son of god," will be the first time that they hear and see the story of Jesus come to life. Reporter: In the movie Downey plays what's really the female lead, the virgin Mary. My son. As a believer what did you learn from becoming her? For the screen. It was profoundly moving. To step into the role. Because we know Mary was the mother of the son of god, but she was also the mother of a son. She knew that he was born to be extraordinary. But she must not have known that he would die in quite that way. Absolutely. I don't think that she knew. Don't be afraid. Everything is possible. With god. How could you stand there and witness this? Reporter: Passion too has a precedent on the big screen. Mel Gibson's "The passion of the Christ," maybe the only movie ever made in aramaic. Supposedly the pope himself gave his blessing. After John Paul ii saw it he reportedly said, "It is as it was." Now, that's one hell of a movie blurb. Gibson's movie has gone on to make more than $600 million. It's a story that everyone knows. And yet a story that wars have been fought over. Kingdoms have been lost over. Mel Gibson went out of his way to make what he thought was the definitive movie. And he got into some hot water from the jewish community over allegations of anti-semitism. Were you worried about that? We consulted with rabbis and in particular with the anti-defamation league, just to understand the sensitivities and what could we do while keeping to the gospels, but being sensitive to the jewish faith. Jesus and the disciples were all jewish. There were no Christians, Jews, and Romans. It was simply the jewish people and the Romans. Reporter: Even before the critics have weighed in, the film has a built-in audience. Your hunger for righteousness will be filled. If you didn't know Jesus and you came to this movie for the first time, I think you would get a beautiful understanding of what he came to do. Blessed are the pure in heart. For they shall see god. We tried to tell the movie as a thriller to create the tension and the drama, to make it compelling. You are charged with blasphemy. Reporter: Clearly a labor of love for them. Now also poised to be a huge commercial success. I'm David Wright for "Nightline" in Hollywood.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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