'The Pilgrim's Progress,' Written in 1678, to Become Faith-Based Film

Robert Ryu
Patrick Thompson in 'Heavenquest: A Pilgrim's Progress'

The movie comes from King Street Pictures, founded by entertainment lawyers.

Christian filmmakers are tackling a movie based on what is generally considered the first novel written in English.

The book, The Pilgrim's Progress From This World, to That Which Is to Come, was written in 1678 by John Bunyan. He began his Christian allegory while in prison, accused of conducting religious services without permission. The book has been translated into more than 200 languages and many theologians consider it the second most-read book of faith after the Bible.

The film, dubbed Heavenquest: A Pilgrim's Progress, is the third movie from King Street Pictures, which makes faith-inspired films for a global audience. King Street was founded last year by former Warner Bros. attorney Dan Mark and his partner Rachel Tan, a former actress in Hong Kong and also an entertainment attorney. 

The first two movies from King Street, which is partially funded by Asian investors, are Snakehead and Fiction and Other Realities, both in postproduction. The former is a drama about human smuggling, while the latter is an English and Korean language musical.

With Heavenquest, King Street is hoping to break a couple of barriers for faith-based movies: Earn itself a worldwide audience and prove that Christian moviegoers appreciate the fantasy genre.

As to the latter, the Chronicles of Narnia franchise is also considered fantasy, though the filmmakers oftentimes downplayed the Christianity in that series, whereas those behind Heavenquest will not.

The movie's international cast includes In Pyo Cha, one of the first South Korean superstars, plus Karyme Lozano and Fernanda Romero from Mexico, Peta Sergeant from Australia and Ricky Kim from South Korea. Americans include newcomer Patrick Thompson as well as Alan Powell, the lead singer of Anthem Lights, a Christian band.

"We're trying to break new ground in the faith-based genre," said director Matt Bilen. "It's dirt-under-the-fingernails, action-packed, grittier, more stylistic and more cinematic than what audiences have seen previously."

The movie has begun filming in Redding, Calif., filmmakers said Tuesday.

The book tells the story of Christian and his journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, and it includes characters — some of them bearing fantastical gifts — with names like Evangelist, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, Goodwill, Beelzebub, Piety and Envy. 

Previous attempts to turn Bunyan's book into a movie include films dubbed Pilgrim's Progress in 1912, 1978 and 2008.