TODAY   |  February 27, 2014

Mark Burnett: It’s ‘year of the Bible’ in movies

The producer says Hollywood has gone holy with a number of biblical-themed movies arriving in 2014, including “Son of God” and “Exodus.” NBC’s Joe Fryer reports.

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>>> and we are back now on a thursday morning. hollywood of course gearing up for this weekend's academy awards but the weekend could also mark the kickoff of what could become the industry's year of the bible. joe fryar explains.

>> reporter: the bible lesson for pastor joel olsteen 's platform is moving from big church to cineplex.

>> clearly 2014 is being dubbed the year of the bible.

>> reporter: you could say his movie is the genesis of this year's trend.

>> a great flood is coming.

>> reporter: next month the story of noah hits the big screen starring russell crowe and later this year, christian bale plays moses. this all comes ten years after the controversial " passion of the christ " generated nearly $400 million. how hard is it to duplicate what " passion of the christ did."

>> it would be really hard to duplicate. that was lightning in a bottle.

>> and people are already snapping up seats and renting out theaters zip think people are looking who are wholesome things.

>> reporter: an eager crowd lined up for free passes after someone donated 9,000 tickets.

>> i can't wait to see it.

>> reporter: they spent four years getting feedback and building a core church-going audience.

>> this is a passion project for us. the most important thing is this movie gets seen and used.

>> reporter: the challenge for these films, finding larger appeal knowing controversy to strike by deviating too much from their best selling source. all the same rules apply to faith-based movies that apply to every movie out there. but if you can cross over to mainstream audiences, that's box office gold.

>> and if that happens, the year of the bible could