Hollywood Turns to the Bible in Search of Hits

Movies from "The Ten Commandments" to "Ben-Hur" to the TV miniseries "The Bible" show that Hollywood has turned to that book before to mine blockbuster hits.

More recently, however, movie makers have turned more to superheroes - Ironman, Batman, Thor and Spider-Man among them - to find box-office success.

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But that could all change next year as three biblically focused movies get set to make a major splash.

Oscar winner Christian Bale, most recently seen in "American Hustle," has been tapped to portray Moses in "Exodus," a Ridley Scott movie based on the second book of the Bible.

Also highly anticipated for 2014 is "Mary Mother of Christ," a movie whose promotional poster features a hooded woman with her arms outstretched and the words "You Will Believe" above.

The film's title character will be played by Odeya Rush, a 16-year-old Israeli-born actress.

Perhaps most anticipated is "Noah," an expectedly darker take on the classic Bible story starring Russell Crowe as Noah and Anthony Hopkins as his grandfather, Methuselah. The film is directed by Darren Aronofsky, the man behind "Black Swan" and "Requiem for a Dream."

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Early comments by Crowe give a glimpse into how unexpected of a portrayal the movie could take on the biblical figure and his famous ark.

"They consider Noah to be a benevolent figure … because he looked out for the animals," Crowe told "Entertainment Tonight" in June. "I'm like, are you kidding me? This is a dude that stood by and watched the entire population of the planet perish. He's not benevolent. He's not even nice."

"I think people are going to be quite surprised what Noah actually really means," he said.

Reports indicate the some early screenings of the movie before religious audiences were rocky, showing that despite the success of such movies as "The Bible" - which had nearly 12 million viewers for each of its 10 episodes - not all Bible-inspired Hollywood products turn into gold.

"Telling these types of stories will always be controversial," said Andrew Stewart, film reporter for Variety magazine. "It is something that people are obviously very passionate about.

"For a lot of people, it is their livelihood," he said. "Are some people going to be upset about it? Absolutely."