Home Christian News ‘Jesus’ Film Producers Plan Release of New Animated Version in 2025

‘Jesus’ Film Producers Plan Release of New Animated Version in 2025

Carola said he and the animation team will have to approach certain parts of the story of Jesus, such as the crucifixion, “definitely delicately.”

“We don’t want to minimize what he did for us, obviously, but we certainly can’t show it to the level of ‘The Passion of the Christ,’” he said. “We’re not doing that. So it’s a fine line.”

Director Dominic Carola addresses an audience at the Museum of the Bible, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023, in Washington, during an announcement about the Jesus Film Project. (RNS photo/Adelle M. Banks)

The clip that aired Thursday at the Museum of the Bible, depicting the Gospel story of Jesus’ raising the synagogue leader Jairus’ daughter from the dead, was shown to focus groups in different cultures and countries. Newell said even those who might never have heard of Jesus reacted positively to the story.

While the original film, produced in a docudrama style, was two hours long, the new version is expected to run about 90 minutes. Both are based on the Gospel of Luke, but the storytelling will differ in pace through the animation.

“We will linger in those moments of where there aren’t words in the Bible, and we’ll see Jesus interact in some new ways that we didn’t see in the previous version,” said Newell. “There’s going to be some surprising scenes that are added to it that we really think are fun and meaningful from the Gospel of Luke that we’re going to share.”

As of mid-November, Newell said, about a third of the estimated project cost of $150 million had been raised. Some donors made contributions in honor of Paul Eshleman, Newell’s predecessor, whose family created a memorial fund after his death on May 24 at the age of 80.

Newell said he hopes the animated version will launch in 100 languages and that three to five years later, it, like the live action version, will have expanded to 2,100.

Josh Newell speaks about the Jesus Film Project at the Museum of the Bible, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023, in Washington. (RNS photo/Adelle M. Banks)

Josh Newell speaks about the Jesus Film Project at the Museum of the Bible, Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023, in Washington. (RNS photo/Adelle M. Banks)

The latest translation is in the language of the Waorani tribe. Jim Elliot, a U.S. missionary, was killed when he sought to spread the Christian gospel among the Waorani people in Ecuador in 1956. Newell said in a statement that the version in this language follows a request for it and features voice actors from different Waorani communities.

Gabe Handy, executive program director for the film, said he expects the quality of animation will match other biblical animated films, such as “The Prince of Egypt,” but the new “Jesus” film will feature three-dimensional animation, also used in films such as Pixar’s “Toy Story.