“If Jesus was alive today he would probably make movies,” says Bishop T.D. Jakes. So you could say that Jakes and producer DeVon Franklin are taking a divine cue in bringing the memoir, Miracles From Heaven, to the big screen with big name actors attached.
The team is hoping to strike gold again, after the success that their last joint producing venture, Heaven Is For Real grossed $101 million worldwide in box office sales.
Miracles isn’t a direct sequel, but continues a theme seated firmly in the faith-based genre that has definitely found its place in Hollywood, clearly demonstrated after the tiny-budgeted ($2 million) faith-based picture, War Room, shook the film world up raking in an astonishing $67 million.
It’s a testament to great filmmaking, according to Franklin, and Miracles has all the ingredients to follow in its footsteps. Starring Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah, the film is based on the incredible true story of the Beam family. When Christy (Garner) discovers her 10-year-old daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) has a rare, incurable disease, she becomes a ferocious advocate for her daughter’s healing as she searches for a solution. After Anna has a freak accident, an extraordinary miracle unfolds in the wake of her dramatic rescue that leaves medical specialists mystified, her family restored and their community inspired.
EBONY.com spoke with Bishop T.D. Jakes and DeVon Franklin about why they were drawn to this project, about the juggernaut that the faith-based film industry has become, why Christians and non-Christians alike will want to see this movie and more.
EBONY: Why this project?
T.D. Jakes: We started out with Heaven is For Real and it was very, very successful so we decided to do a sequel to it. We were looking for the right story to do and my literary agent had the book. Then Devon found out how to buy the rights to the book – we got involved in it and did this movie because, while it is not a straight sequel to Heaven is For Real, it is synergistic nonetheless, it’s a great story about real people who went through an extraordinary situation.
EBONY: Is there something personal that stands out to you about it? And is that important for any projects that you work on, that they have a personal meaning to both of you or either of you?
Jakes: This particular case for me it is [personal]. It’s not always a criteria through which I get involved. The criteria for me is that the film ultimately is uplifting. But for me personally, I grew up in hospitals. My father was sick. So I grew up in hospitals from the age of 10. Got to see a lot of suffering. Got to see that while everybody was having life outside people in hospitals were having a terrible time. And so for me it was kind of like déjà vu to watch the family. I know the smells, the feel – it all took me back to a very painful time in my own life and my own family and because I grew up with a family in dourest I relate to the Beam family in a very personal way.
DeVon Franklin: My father passed away when I was nine years old, 36. He was an alcoholic. So at the time that thing that really helped me was watching film. It gave me hope, and going to church. And so being able to now make films that can touch people when they’re going through trials is really part of one of my personal connections to it because film helped me. A story like this I think will be very healing for other people.
EBONY: What was a particular message or something you want viewers to take away from this project?
Jakes: I live in the world of miracles. The big biblical proportion miracles and this story has a biblical proportion miracle in it. But the thing that’s absolutely amazing to me were the little miracles that the film points out, the little things that happen along the way that we often overlook. And in my own life it reminded me to take the time to recognize that the choices that we make, whether we’re a hat check girl at a restaurant, or whether we’re a bellhop at the airport, or at a hotel, the choices that we make to help people that we don’t have to can have miraculous impacts on the outcomes of their lives. And I think if we can dignify people who are used to being overlooked, that would be a wonderful outcome to come from this movie.
Franklin: I think that when you look at entertainment it’s like everything right now is so one-note, in one thing, and I think audiences are tired of the same thing over and over and over again so when you have a movie that is entertaining and a great story and it will make you laugh and it will make you cry and you walk out of the theater feeling better about life, hugging your family, feeling optimistic – that is the feeling I think we really want.
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SOURCE: Ebony – Crystal Shaw King