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'Young Messiah' director rejoices over 'A-' grade

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Cyrus Nowrasteh, the director for the just-released “Young Messiah,” told WND on Monday he was pleased with the $3.4 million the movie grossed March 11-13 despite showing on fewer screens than all but one of the weekend’s other top 10 grossing movies.


And he was pleased with the No. 7 ranking for the unique production that reveals one interpretation of the childhood of Jesus.


But what he said really was pleasing was the “A-” grade given at CinemaScore, the ranking of movie appeal among audiences.


“We’re thrilled with the reaction and word of mouth, and also the CinemaScore,” he told WND. “We fell it’s going to encourage … the audience out there. That was very positive.”


He said the best selling point is the movie itself.


And the takeaway is that he expects it to “play well into Easter.”


Nowrasteh noted that the critics appeared either to like it a lot – or not. There was “no middle ground.”


Johnny Hunt, a pastor at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Georgia, told Baptist Press the project is a perfect way to discuss faith with friends.


“I personally am extremely excited about this new movie,” he said. “All the Christian films that are coming out of Hollywood are giving us even a greater platform to talk more and more about the Lord Jesus.”


Nowrasteh told WND that he hopes the movie proves entertaining to audiences, but also touches them on a spiritual and religious level.


In a review of the movie for WND, Drew Zahn writes this film is the story of the one hole in the story of Jesus life: His childhood.


It is based on the novel “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt” by Anne Rice, who has authored spiritually inspired novels and a wide range of other projects, even vampire novels.


Zahn writes, “The Scriptures give us the story of Jesus’ birth, another brief tale when He was still very young and again as a child of 12 years. But other than that, we’re only told the boy Jesus grew in “wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man.” The story doesn’t pick up again until Jesus was 30. What happened in all the gaps in between?”


He notes that the story generally follows biblical accounts, with few mistakies.


“The movie’s production values and entertainment value are exemplary, a story filled with distinct and well-blended characters, believable acting, and a script well balanced with mystery and humor. This is no ‘Christian movie,’ but a first-rate, Hollywood production. Jesus’ ‘uncle,’ Cleopas, is a particularly endearing character, and the elderly Sarah, who hides the Holy Family, is a true delight. The entire film is an intriguing exercise in speculation about both the boy Jesus and his earthly father, Joseph, whom Scripture is also largely silent about … so long as we all realize this is merely speculation. It’s not meant to be an addition to the biblical canon,” he wrote.


He continued, “‘The Young Messiah,’ … is not a catechism, not doctrine, not the biblical story. It’s an exercise, a poem or a song about Jesus in movie form, and an entertaining one at that.”


It’s rated PG-13 but contains neither obscenity nor profanity.


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