When The Bible aired on the History Channel earlier this year it became 2013's number one new cable-TV series. It was a ratings monster and over the course of its 10-hour run it reportedly drew a cumulative 100 million watchers in North America. Being seen by nearly a third of the U.S. population isn't good enough, though, because the miniseries' producer Mark Burnett is currently busy figuring out how to cut the 10-hour religious epic down into a three-hour movie and get it in theaters this fall.
Burnett says he's already got multiple offers on the table from studios looking to get involved, but that he's considering going a more unconvential route. What exactly that means is unclear, but he could certainly afford to self-distribute the newly cut film and take 100% of the profits instead of splitting them with another distributor.
Reediting a TV show into a movie certainly isn't unheard of. Reality Show at SXSW this year was actually a reedited version of a show Adam Rifkin created for Showtime. That undertaking wasn't nearly as massive as trimming 10 hours into three, though, and so a better example is the South Korean hit Iris starring Byung-hun Lee (best recognized stateside as Storm Shadow in G.I. Joe). That started as a 20-episode show (each an hour long!) about secret agents that was shrunk down massively into a 125-minute long movie.
As for what is going to be left out of the feature-film version of The Bible, Burnett isn't saying yet. The original show was 10 hours if you count the commercial breaks and all the "Previously on..." and "Next on..." segments. Without those it's already a much more manageable length. The question is, will people turn out for a three-hour version of The Bible when the 10-hour version is already available on Blu-ray and DVD? Will Burnett have to add in something special to entice repeat watchers?