The idea that turned the nation’s largest Christian retail chain into a giving engine to support widows and orphans now expands to movies. Family Christian Stores’ new sister company, Family Christian Entertainment (FCE), announces the Atlanta shoot, starting Jan. 26, of 90 Minutes In Heaven, the 2004 New York Times best-selling book (7 million-plus sold) about Pastor Don Piper’s near-death experience. Kate Bosworth and Hayden Christensen star. Michael Polish directs.
In 1989 Don Piper died in an automobile accident (paramedics had covered him with a tarp) when another pastor at the site prayed over him. Before Piper returned to life, and to a protracted physical recovery, he saw Heaven, met family members, friends, church folks, teachers . . . even joined the procession as a heavenly choir entered Heaven’s gates.
“Piper struck me as a reliable witness,” Christianity Today editor and former Christian History editor Mark Galli wrote in CT’s December 2012 cover story about the rise in accounts of “near-God experiences.” “Piper simply had the look and sound of sanity, of someone who was telling the truth, whose word was his bond,” Galli said.
Piper knows well his story’s effect and is eager to see it translate into theaters.
“In the 10 years since the book’s release–in 46 languages–the response always is moving and personal to each reader. To think now that it’s also going to be a film is humbling and gratifying, and for Family Christian Entertainment to produce it is immensely exciting.”
“We know our audience, we know the power of stories, and we plan to make at least two films a year,” 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN Producer Rick Jackson said. Jackson founded and is CEO of Jackson Healthcare, the nation’s third-largest healthcare staffing company. He and two other investors formed Family Christian Ministries, a non-profit holding company that owns Family Christian Stores, IDisciple, Family Christian Entertainment—and sends 100 percent of profits to Christian charities.
“In production . . . in quality, budgets and professionalism, the Christian and family markets are maturing, and we’re upping the ante again,” Jackson said. He adds that Family Christian Entertainment is open to all sources for ideas–from developing original scripts to ideas that come in the door. “And we’ll stay true to the story,” he said. “When faith is a factor, it stays in.”
While Family Christian Stores is the leading seller of Christian DVDs, Jackson emphasizes that FCE theatrical films, as they become DVDs, will sell in many outlets beyond Family Christian Stores. And, again, all movie profits will go to charities.
Besides Rick Jackson, 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN is produced by Randall Emmett, Dawn Olmstead, Michael Polish, and George Furla; executive producers include Ted Fox, Wayne Godfrey, Trevor Drinkwater and Jason Netter.