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'Harry Potter' film producer to adapt Jesus biography 'Zealot'

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David Heyman

David Heyman produced eight movies about the second-most-famous Christ figure in history, Harry Potter. Now, he’s making a movie about Christ himself.

The movie will be based on the bestseller Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by historian Reza Aslan. Aslan’s book became the subject of controversy last summer when Fox News anchor Lauren Green questioned Aslan’s authority, as a Muslim, to write a book abut Jesus.

Former Focus Features CEO James Schamus will be adapting the book into a screenplay. Busy with his production company (he left last October), Schamus hasn’t had a screenplay produced since 2009’s Taking Woodstock, directed by Ang Lee. He’s also written or adapted the screenplays for eight of Lee’s other movies, including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and The Ice Storm. Heyman, who also produced Gravity, should consider roping Lee in for this movie as well if he’s going for a historical drama with Oscar pedigree.

Movies based on biblical stories have been popular lately: Earlier this year, Son of God, also based on the life of Jesus, was a surprise box office hit, grossing $67 million on a $22 million budget, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah grossed over $350 million worldwide, and, later this year, Ridley Scott’s Exodus, telling the Moses story, will be released. David Heyman is also producing a Harry Potter spinoff trilogy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, written by J.K. Rowling.