'Secretariat' helmer developing faith-based drama for studio

Marking a departure from his typical film fare, “Secretariat” helmer Randall Wallace has committed to develop Sony’s faith-based family drama “Heaven Is for Real” as a potential directing vehicle.

Joe Roth is producing through his Roth Films banner along with T.D. Jakes, who just produced “Sparkle” for the studio.

Written by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent, “Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back” was a New York Times bestseller that chronicled Burpo’s son’s near-death experience and subsequent claim that he visited heaven. His family and the members of his small town do not believe him until his stories identify people who have passed away.

Scribe Christopher Parker (“Battle of the Year”) is adapting the book, and Sony exec DeVon Franklin is overseeing the project for the studio. An ordained preacher whom Sony just upped to senior VP of production, Franklin has a strong handle on commercial material geared toward the faith-based market, having published the inspirational self-help book “Produced by Faith” last year.

Wallace has been looking to get back in the saddle since directing Disney’s “Secretariat” in 2010. Helmer recently signed on to direct WWII pic “The Conscientious Objector” for Walden Media, and the Oscar-nominated “Braveheart” scribe also agreed to write the action-adventure pic “Gunslingers” for New Regency and star Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Picture Show Prods. banner. Wallace will serve as a producer on the latter project.

He’s repped by WME and Media Talent Group.

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