The Tribulation Force is coming soon to a theater near you. Namesake Entertainment and Cloud Ten Pictures, the Christian movie studio founded by Canadian broadcasters Peter and Paul Lalonde, announced in July that they are ready to embark on a $17.4 million big-screen adaptation of Left Behind, the best-selling novel by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.

No director or stars have yet been signed to the project, but the film has already attracted the participation of Ralph Winter, an established producer whose credits include Inspector Gadget, Mighty Joe Young, and several Star Trek movies. Shooting begins in Toronto early next year, with the release tentatively set for October 2000.

Joe Goodman, president of Namesake Entertainment, describes the forthcoming film as a "spiritual thriller" and says it will have crossover appeal. "It's almost like creating a new genre. It's going to be very faithful to the core audience, while opening up to the spiritual craving of the secular audience, which is a big audience that exists out there for us."

GROWING BUDGETS: The announcement comes as the Lalondes are currently putting the finishing touches on Tribulation, the third in their series of straight-to-video end-times movies. The budgets for these films have increased sharply: according to Peter Lalonde, Apocalypse cost $1 million to produce, Revelation $5 million, and Tribulation $9 million.

Lalonde says over 300,000 copies each of the first two films have been sold to date, and Revelation did well when it played in select theaters across the continent. "In theaters, it always placed as the third or fourth movie of the [local] market, which means we beat about 50 percent of the Hollywood movies," he says.

Left Behind is going into production ...

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