“Heaven Is For Real, the feature film about a young boy’s real-life claim that he visited heaven and met Jesus during a near-death experience, captivated millions when it debuted in theaters earlier this year.
In anticipation of the film’s release on DVD and Blu-ray next month, Sony Pictures exclusively released a deleted scene to TheBlaze as well as video interviews with the Burpo family and the movie’s creators explaining how the Christian-themed movie made its way to the big screen.
As previously reported, in 2003, 4-year-old Colton Burpo claimed he saw and interacted with the divine. It’s no surprise that his purported experience sparked some debate in his small-town community in Imperial, Nebraska, leading even his father, a pastor, to grapple with his young son’s claims.
After all, the concept of life after death is known to spawn some serious discussion — and disagreement. And that’s exactly what happened both in the community and among parishioners at Colton’s church (read some of the Burpo family’s real-life claims here).
In a deleted scene not shown in the theatrical release, these tensions can be observed between Colton’s father Todd Burpo, who is played by actor Greg Kinnear, and church board member Jay Wilkons, who is portrayed by actor Thomas Haden Church.
Burpo, who is pastor at Crossroads Wesleyan Church, find himself at a crossroads when the church board shows skepticism after learning the details of Colton’s purported experience. A split develops between Burpo and some of church leaders who are initially uncomfortable with the story’s theological underpinnings.
Watch the scene, which didn’t make the cutting room floor, below:
Sony also shared a second clip that reveals how the bestselling “Heaven Is For Real” book made its way to the big screen.
Producer Joe Roth is featured in the video, explaining that he regularly reads the Sunday New York Times book section to find ideas for good films. One day, he found a write-up about Colton’s story and became intrigued.
“I saw about a two-paragraph section that talked about this book and it seemed to me a terrific idea for a movie, because everybody wants to know what happens when you die,” Roth explained.
Others agreed that the story was fascinating and writer and director Randall Wallace was brought on board to help bring the story to life.
“Heaven Is For Real,” he said, offered an opportunity to highlight the personal struggles that faith leaders like Burpo go through when they deal with their own personal doubt — a subject that is often given little attention.
“Anyone who takes on the mantle of trying to lead others into faith then has the struggle of saying, ‘What do I do with my own doubts and my own fears? To whom do I go when I am hurting and when my own sense of self or confidence is crumbling?,'” he said. “What do you do when your son … looks at you and says, ‘I went to heaven?’ What do you say?”
He added, “That, to me, is the stuff of drama.”
Watch this clip below:
“Heaven Is For Real” is based on the New York Times bestselling book by the same name.