Nobody likes an unsolicited cold-call, but author Mitch Albom must have been pleased to hear that Warner Bros. would be acquiring his bestselling novel, The First Phone Call From Heaven, with a view to making it into a successful movie. Denise DiNovi and Alison Greenspan are set to produce, with Chantal Nong and Cate Adams shepherding the project for the studio.
The story details the response of townsfolk when phones start ringing in Coldwater, MI. As the callers claim to be reaching out from heaven, reactions of residents differ wildly, and a grieving single father decides to investigate the origins of the calls.
With the purchase of source material having just been made, cast and crew are not yet officially in place. However, the synopsis feels like it lands squarely in the wheelhouse of Johnny Depp, or Nicholas Cage, or perhaps even John Cusack? It will certainly be interesting to see which screenwriters and directors might be interested in taking a swing at this project, given the potentially contentious subject matter.
This acquisition on the part of Warner Bros comes as no surprise, though, since Hollywood studios love to perpetuate trends. Just as Twilight heralded an era of vampires and werewolves, The X-Men opened the door for an army of superheroes. In the next few years we are expecting a flurry of sport-related films – including Gold and Race – while a vast swathe of spiritually-themed films is already upon us. Noah is released in the US on March 28, while Heaven Is For Real can be seen from April 16. Exodus will arrive on December 12, and a further literary adaptation – of William Paul Young’s bestselling novel about a conversation with God, ‘The Shack’ – is also in development and on its way.
If movie-making trends reflect the needs of the audience, it would seem we are desperate need of spiritual nourishment. What is exciting to see, however, is that many of these films are trying to present something of a fresh angle on these age-old philosophical and existential themes, which could make for some refreshing and thought-provoking trips to the cinema.
Watch this space for further production news, while we await The First Phone Call From Heaven.