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Box office brief: Will Christian audiences turn out for 'Heaven Is for Real'?

It’s no secret that Christian-themed films have the potential to be box office gold, but even though faith-based audiences are starved for more material, it doesn’t always pan out the way studios might hope.

While Paramount’s expensive and provocative Darren Aronofsky-directed Noah continues to climb the steep slope toward domestic profitability and Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s Son of God failed to reach Passion of the Christ heights (after seven weeks in theaters it still hasn’t even made Passion‘s opening weekend numbers), the independently released God’s Not Dead came out of nowhere and stunned the major studios with its mighty box office ascent. The $2 million film, now playing in 1,860 locations, has made nearly $41.5 million in just four weekends in theaters.

Now, TriStar Pictures is rolling out its drama Heaven Is for Real on Wednesday in 2,400 locations. Based on the best-selling book by Pastor Todd Burpo about his real-life encounter with the divine, Heaven Is for Real tells the story of his young son, who claims to have visited Heaven during a near-death experience. Greg Kinnear portrays the pastor in the adaptation, and newcomer Connor Corum plays his son Colton. Despite the heavy religious bent, analysts believe that the film will play to both faith-based and mainstream audiences and predict a $20 million five-day opening for the $12 million film. READ FULL STORY

Greg Kinnear finds faith in 'Heaven Is for Real' -- EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK

Heaven Is for Real may be a spiritual tale, but it’s not solely for people of faith.

Based on Nebraska Pastor Todd Burpo’s best-selling book, the film re-creates the true account of his young son’s insistence that he’s visited heaven. We Were Soldiers and Secretariat director Randall Wallace was tasked with bringing the tale to the big screen, which stars Greg Kinnear as Todd, Kelly Reilly as his wife Sonja, and newcomer Connor Corum as their son Colton.

“I’m amazed it got to me,” Wallace told EW of Burpo’s book. “I’ve been around churches all my life and I’ve been exposed to a lot of material that would be categorized as inspirational. Most of the stuff is anything but inspirational for me. But I found this story to have an incredible intrigue and emotional power,” he said. “It speaks to the cynic in most of us.”

EW got an exclusive first look at the film, which hits theaters on April 16, 2014.

Julianne Moore and Lily Collins star in 'The English Teacher' -- EXCLUSIVE POSTER

Julianne Moore’s recent characters know their way around a mid-life crisis.

Garnering acclaim for roles in The Kids Are All Right and Game Change, Moore excels at playing complicated women, a trend that is set to continue with Linda Sinclair, her character in the new film The English Teacher. Moore plays the titular high school teacher, a woman whose life outside the classroom hasn’t always measured up to her work inside. When a former student, Jason (Michael Angarano), returns home after failing as a playwright in New York, Linda refuses to let him give up his dream, and decides to mount his new controversial production at the school.

That may have been fine, but Linda also begins a relationship with Jason, which leads to an awkward love triangle between Linda, Jason, and Lily Collins’ “drama student extraordinaire” character, Halle — which naturally gives way to some combative scenes between Collins and Moore. “My character is kind of the catalyst for Julianne Moore’s character going a little bit crazy,” Collins tells EW. “[Moore's character] is kind of having this mid-life crisis, and me calling her out on her relationship with Michael and the play kind of start her on this downward spiral where she shows she’s a bit of a mess.” READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Chris Rock to write, direct, and star in new film; Plus Keira Knightley as Coco Chanel, more

• Chris Rock is set to direct and star in a new film that he wrote, which is described as an “edgy showbiz-themed comedy with romance.” The busy comedian is also working on a number of documentaries, including Eat, Drink, Laugh, about New York’s Comic Strip Live, and Credit Is the Devil. This will be Rock’s third directorial effort. Rock also wrote and directed I Think I Love My Wife and Head of State. [Deadline]

• We’re tempted to roll our eyes at the thought of yet another Coco Chanel film, but this one might actually be interesting. Karl Lagerfeld, the delightfully irreverent creative director of Chanel, is reportedly working on a short film starring Keira Knightley as the lady behind the famous fashion house. Knightley’s the face of Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle perfume, and the short will be in celebration of the brand’s 100th anniversary. It’s a dressed up marketing campaign, but thanks to David Lynch’s short film for Dior with Marion Cotillard, we’re interested in what collaborations like these can breed. [Guardian]

READ FULL STORY

Check out the new poster for 'Stuck in Love,' starring Jennifer Connelly and Greg Kinnear -- EXCLUSIVE

A father, his daughter, and his son all navigating the rough waters of love and relationships — such is the story of upcoming film Stuck in Love, starring Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, and Logan Lerman.

Stuck in Love features Kinnear as Bill Borgens, a veteran novelist who hasn’t been able to write since his divorce three years earlier. Still obsessing over his ex-wife, Erica (Jennifer Connelly), Bill gets a talking-to for spying on Erica from his own daughter, Samantha (Lily Collins), also an aspiring writer. Samantha has her own relationship problems at college, where she’s recoiling at the very thought of first love with diehard romantic Lou (Logan Lerman). Meanwhile, Bill’s teenage son, Rusty (Nat Wolff), is trying to find his voice, both as a fantasy writer and as the unexpected boyfriend of his school’s dream girl.

EW has the exclusive new poster for Stuck in Love. Check it out below: READ FULL STORY

Casting Net: Christian Bale in early talks to play Moses; Plus, Vincent D'Onofrio, Greg Kinnear, more

• Christian Bale may be joining a long line of Moseses, a list that includes Sir Ben Kingsley, Mel Brooks, Burt Lancaster, and Charlton Heston. According to a report, Ridley Scott is developing the Fox Moses movie Exodus, which is currently undergoing a rewrite by Moneyball co-writer Steve Zaillian. Bale is in very early talks to star. Scott hopes to begin work on the film as soon as he wraps The Counselor with Brad Pitt. Warner Bros. also has a Moses project in the works – Steven Spielberg was attached to direct Gods And Kings but recently dropped out of the project. They’re reportedly trying to get Ang Lee to sign on as a replacement. [Deadline]

• Vincent D’Onofrio, who will always be Dawson from Adventures in Babysitting to us, is set to play Robert Downey Jr.’s brother in David Dobkin‘s The Judge. We reported earlier this week that Robert Duvall had signed on to play their father. D’Onofrio has a slew of projects in the works including the cracked-out-but-still-awesome-sounding Pawn Shop Chronicles with Norman Reedus, Elijah Wood, Paul Walker, and Ashlee Simpson. [THR]

• Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine) and Josh Lawson (The Campaign) have joined the star-studded cast of Anchorman: The Legend Continues. There’s no word yet on what their roles might be, but we can probably assume that Kinnear will take the anchor’s desk once more. Anyone else hope he’s going to poke fun at his past life on Talk Soup? [Deadline]

• Underworld franchise star Kate Beckinsale is in talks to join Brad Anderson‘s (The Call) Eliza Graves, an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether. [THR]

PREVIOUSLY: ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’: Colossus returning; Theo James cast in ‘Divergent’

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