Mary Magdalene, Paul and Samson the movie stars

The biblical epics bound for the big screen in 2018

Mary Magdalene, the apostle Paul and Samson want your attention and your money. These varied and well-known biblical figures are at the core of new movies headed to cinemas this year.

Mary Magdalene (released March 22)

One of the most prominent followers of Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene is a savvy choice for a provocative reimagining on screen. Our modern world swirls with discussion and furore about gender, power and influence, so focusing on a woman in the first century who was a notable part of a revolutionary movement should stir some viewers. Australian director Garth Davis came to fame last year with adoption drama Lion and he’s picked Mary Magdalene as his follow-up. Starring Rooney Mara (Carol, Lion) in the title role and Walk the Line star Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus, Davis’s portrait of Magdalene does not promise to be biblically faithful. Expect controversy to erupt about the societal impact of Magdalene, as well as her prominence in the events of Jesus’s public life – and in his “private” life.

Paul, Apostle of Christ (released March 29)

Jim Caviezel was unforgettable as Jesus in Mel Gibson’s phenomenal The Passion of the Christ. The professing Christian returns to Bible roles in Paul, Apostle of Christ, playing early Christian leader Luke (who wrote one of the four gospels and the book of Acts). The team behind Paul, Apostle of Christ has been making noise about how Scripture was the key source of their script. Game of Thrones actor Jame Faulkner plays Paul and the movie (released in the USA at Easter) will trace the apostle’s life from conversion to imprisonment in Rome – as told to Luke.


From the American production company behind God’s Not Dead comes an Old Testament adventure epic about Book of Judges’ strongman Samson. Released at US cinemas in February, Samson is positioning itself as a Bible-based competitor to superhero blockbusters. A man of supernatural strength who struggles to handle the weight of expectation and responsibility thrust upon him? A saviour figure taking on an evil empire to save his oppressed people? Featuring Titanic‘s Billy Zane and Blade Runner‘s Rutger Hauer, Samson will aim to land more blows at the box office than 2016’s Ben-Hur remake (a loosely ‘biblical’ epic that fizzled with audiences and critics).

Samson does not yet have an Australian release date.

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Mary Magdalene

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