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Churches Ready to Flock to Fox

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The upcoming movie Son of God could become one of the biggest surprises of 2014 for the 20th Century Fox film division of  21st Century Fox (FOXA - Get Report) , as the film gets a huge boost from churches around the nation. The parallels to 2004's blockbuster The Passion of the Christ should get investors excited and lead to a possible buying opportunity.

Fox is a dominant media conglomerate that owns assets in television and movies.

Like The Passion of the Christ, Son of God is getting an early box office boost from pastors and churches across the nation. Reports are that at least 10 multiplexes have been bought out for the day before the movie's Feb. 28 opening.

Rick Warren, a popular pastor and author, has bought out eight theaters in Orange County. More importantly, he has challenged other pastors across the nation to do the same.

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Son of God is adapted from the mini-series The Bible, which had strong ratings on the History Channel (DIS). Created by Roma Downey (the Touched by an Angel actress) and her husband Mark Burnett (of Survivor, Shark Tank, The Voice and Celebrity Apprentice), the show saw average viewership in the 10 to 15 million range for each episode. The finale, which aired on Easter Sunday 2013, saw 11.7 million live viewers. That placed it ahead of The Walking Dead during the 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. time slot the same night.

Strong viewership for The Bible, along with the success of Vikings and Pawn Stars, helped the History Channel reach the No. 1 share for adults age 25 to 54 and men age 25 to 54 for cable networks during the month of March.

In the spring of 2015, Downey and Burnett's Bible-themed sequel A.D. will head to NBC (CMCSA), which picked up the rights. On broadcast television, the show could do quite well and may reward NBC for luring the show away from the History Channel. Burnett also has strong ties with NBC through his hit shows The Voice and Celebrity Apprentice.

Back in 2004, The Passion of the Christ lit up the big screen with a huge domestic box office of $370.8 million. An additional $241.1 million in international box office gave the movie a total of $661.9 million worldwide. The movie still holds the No. 1 position for the "Christian" and "Controversy" genres, according to BoxOfficeMojo. It is the 25th-highest grossing movie in the domestic market to date.

The more impressive feat is that The Passion of the Christ remains the highest grossing "R"-rated movie of all time. In fact, The Passion of the Christ is well ahead of the next-highest "R"-rated movie, The Matrix Reloaded, which grossed $281.6 million in domestic markets.

The Passion of the Christ is the highest-grossing February open of all-time with $83.8 million. This is likely the reason why Son of God is being released in February as well. The movie should do well in its open and could carry momentum through the Lenten season leading up to Easter Sunday, which falls on April 20 this year. This gives the movie two solid months of potentially strong box office.

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