Fate of epic Jesus film 'in the balance'

The fate of an epic movie about the life of Jesus, filming of which was due to start in New Zealand this month, is rumoured to be in the balance.

Dean Wright, the director of Kingdom Come, has flown to Los Angeles for talks with the writers and investors.

Sets for Kingdom Come have already been built in several locations including Lake Benmore in the central South Island and Wellington, but crews have had their Christmas break extended until January 19 as the film executives try to keep the production on track.

It is understood investors are nervous because US networks have been reluctant to buy the film from Wellington-based production company South Vineyard.

About 400 extras around the country responded last year to casting calls that called for people who could pass as Middle Eastern, Moroccan, North African or Mediterranean. Men were encouraged to turn up for auditions unshaven.

There were also pre-production delays on the film in December, which meant some employees were asked to start their Christmas break on December 12.

The latest delays only add to concerns about the project.

Tim Coddington, an Auckland-based producer who has been working on the film, said the project might still go ahead.

"We're just on an extended hiatus while they have some script rewrites done and sort through their financing things."

Casting director Liz Mullane said she was "fully optimistic" that everything would go ahead, but was unable to comment further.

The film is produced and directed by Wright, who has also worked on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and Lord of the Rings.

Wright couldn't be contacted for comment.

Sunday Star Times