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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: April 20, 2019.

There are three top pick redemptive movies in theaters for Easter: The Pilgrim’s Progress, Breakthrough, and Unplanned. All three movies are appropriate for young teens through adults. Here are the most exciting and redemptive movies for Easter.

The Pilgrim’s Progress, a deeply significant film based on the classic story with its universal themes, is coming to theaters for the first time and has been produced to serve missions and missionaries around the world. Written by John Bunyan, this powerful classic will be in theaters this Easter, April 18th and 20th, as a special Fathom Event.  

It is a film created specifically to inspire American families as well as to support missionaries and churches in volatile regions around the world. This project has been designed to strengthen families in the West who are struggling with issues of what is Truth, as well as for people working in missions, especially in areas where it is illegal to have a Bible or to meet as a church together.

The Pilgrim’s Progress is the best-selling fiction book in history. It has never been out of print. It is the first novel written in English

This epic story of the journey of Christian and his burden still resonates with readers today, just as it did 340 years ago!  The Pilgrim’s Progress is a film that can give us courage to live out our faith in a culture that often stands against it and can make us believe that the easy path is the one to take and can cause us to question Biblical Truth.

Because the film is both animated and an allegory, it is a good tool to help missionaries share the Christian journey in countries where believers often face persecution.

The Pilgrim’s Progress features the voices of: John Rhys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings); Kristyn Getty (In Christ Alone); and Ben Price (America’s Got Talent).

This is a film of firsts:

  • The first time the story has been created for a theatrical release
  • The first time the story is told with CGI Animation
  • The first film since the Jesus Movie created specifically to aid missions worldwide

The filmmakers have committed to donate this film to missionaries, home church leaders, underground church leaders, and others around the world, in 100 languages. The film is already being translated into 26 languages most often in regions where Christians face extreme danger, including Mandarin, Spanish and Farsi. On Easter weekend, The Pilgrim’s Progress will be aired on the second largest network in Iran – with an estimated audience of 6 million people. 

Producer Steve Cleary started his work in missions in 1989 as a volunteer for The Voice of the Martyrs. He joined the staff in 1990 and soon after had the honor of traveling with VOM founders Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand. Being able to spend the last decade of their lives with them became the biggest blessing and honor of Steve’s life. He continues with VOM as a contractor and has traveled with them to hostile and restricted nations around the world, including Cuba, Sudan, Northern Nigeria, borders of North Korea and most recently Iraq during the ISIS occupation. See my interview with Steve Cleary and more about this profound film on Sonoma Christian Home. 

Breakthrough is based on the true story of John Smith, a 14-year-old boy who drowned in Lake Saint Louis in January 2014, and was dead for nearly an hour. CPR was performed on John for 27 minutes to no avail in the emergency room. Then John’s adoptive mother, Joyce Smith (played by Chrissy Metz in the film), came into the emergency room, praying loudly. Suddenly, there was a pulse. John was revived. However, the miracles continued because two weeks later, he walked out of the hospital with no brain, lung, or other physical impairment. Today John is alive and well.  He is graduating from high school and preparing to study for ministry.

Some of the most influential adoption and foster-care organizations are partnering with Breakthrough to help share the love of this movie. To learn more about these vital issues, be sure to connect with the Dave Thomas Foundation and the National Foster Parent Association.

Another top pick redemptive movie for Easter is Unplanned. It is a film based on the true story of Abby, who works for Planned Parenthood because she thinks their goal is to prevent pregnancies. It is a well-made movie. It starts with Abby, who is now the director of the local Planned Parenthood office. She was asked to go into the operation room, where she has not gone before, to hold the ultrasound device so the doctor can suck out the baby. Running to the bathroom, she vomits. The movie then cuts back to how Abby as a young woman at Texas A&M from a Christian home, becomes involved with Planned Parenthood. From there, she becomes more and more involved until the movie is back to the opening scene. She eventually leaves her job and Planned Parenthood takes her to court. Although this movie has been rated R due to its content, it is appropriate for older children through adults. Sonoma Christian Home has an interview with Ashley Bratcher who portrays Abby.

Although dates can change, here is what is known about the “what and when” of some of the most promising family and redemptive movies for a range of ages yet due in theaters in 2019: 4/19-Disneynature’s Penguins; 4/22- Bright Ones;   4/29, 30 – Kingdom Men Rising; Tolkien- 5/10; 5/24- Aladdin; 6/7- The Other Side of Heaven 2;  6/21– Toy Story 4;  6/7– Secret Lives of Pets 2;  7/29– Lion King; 8/2 –Dora the  Explorer; 8/23-Overcomer; 9/12- The Islands; 12/31- Finding Grace; and more.

Further, Jon and Andy recently shared good news about upcoming redemptive, family movies. Partnering with Lionsgate, they are launching Kingdom Studios “to create life-changing content from a variety of talented storytellers.” They have announced four upcoming projects:

  1. The Erwins have been known for their successful movies based on true stories. On March 20, 2020, the Erwin bothers plan to release a biopic on the life of Christian recording artist Jeremy Camp. In 2001, Camp’s first wife Melissa Lynn Henning-Camp, died of ovarian cancer months into their marriage. Camp wrote his songs “I Still Believe” and “Walk by Faith” in response to the tragedy, as well as his memoir published in 2003 with the same title. KJ Apa (Riverdale) has been cast as Camp and Gary Sinise is also due to participate in this project.

2. Jesus Revolution is to bring megachurch pastor Greg Laurie’s memoir to the big screen. This movie focuses on the Jesus Movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s and how it impacted the US Jon Gunn (The Case for Christ) serves as a writer along with Jon Erwin for the project.

3. Apostles: Resurrection of Christ includes Kevin Downes (Courageous) as a producing partner with the Erwins. This intended as a trilogy based on the New Testament. It is to be written by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn. It is to be directed by the Erwin Brothers with Downes producing.

4. The Little Drummer Boy, a period movie musical, is the fourth project the Erwins are working on. Lionsgate co-chair of Motion Picture Group Joe Drake said the following about partnering with Kingdom Studios, “Lionsgate is built on the very idea of delivering all audiences stories that inspire, uplift and entertain.  The films that Kingdom has unveiled today add an exciting new dimension to our already existing commitment and relationship within the faith community.”

The best is yet to come when we continue to support the ongoing reformation in content and renaissance in artistry in media and movies. As audiences continue to see good family and redemptive movies in theaters, keeping them at the top of the box office, more good movies like them are being made.

Watch for many top picks this year of redemptive movies that continue to improve in the ongoing renaissance of artistry and reformation of content in movies. Remember that the teams of good family and redemptive movies include consumers, who determine the success and wide global distribution of good family, redemptive movies. We are making good progress in encouraging major Hollywood studios to produce good family and redemptive movies, as well as supporting independent studios to do the same.

Here’s to a blessed 2019!

To learn more about this author, please visit Dr. Diane Howard

See Dr. Howard’s top picks lists on IMDb.

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