SANTA MONICA, CA December 11, 2013 – Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) announced today that it has acquired the feature film rights to internationally acclaimed author Dr. Reza Aslan’s provocative New York Times bestseller Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.
Erik Feig, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group’s President of Production, said, “Reza Aslan has written a remarkable book that manages to bring the ancient world into contemporary relief and to make a timeless story very timely. We are excited to create this uniquely cinematic and immersive world for moviegoers to experience.”
Dr. Aslan commented, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Lionsgate. Their vision for Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth is aligned with my objective in writing the book, which was to illuminate the life of Jesus in a humanistic, as opposed to religious, context.”
Named as one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly, Zealot challenges long-held assumptions about Jesus. Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Dr. Aslan sheds light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived. The book was published by Random House Publishing Group in July 2013.
In addition to Zealot, Dr. Aslan’s first book, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, is also an international best seller and has been named one of the 100 most important books of the last decade by Blackwell Publishers. Dr. Aslan earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in religions from Santa Clara University, his Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and his Doctorate in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Erik Feig, Gillian Bohrer, Lionsgate’s EVP of Production, and James Myers, Creative Executive at Lionsgate, are overseeing the project for the studio. Robert Melnik, Lionsgate’s Executive Vice President of Business Affairs, and Philip Strina, Lionsgate’s Senior Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs, negotiated the deal on behalf of the studio.
Dr. Aslan was represented in the deal by UTA working in association with Elyse Cheney of Cheney Literary in New York and attorney Michael Schenkman of Bloom Hergott et al.