The film One Night with the King is an epic of adventure and intrigue set in ancient Persia. The movie is based on the biblical story of Esther and is part of a growing genre of films with religious themes.
The story from the Book of Esther in the Bible was set in ancient Persia, modern-day Iran, but the tale is universal, says producer Matthew Crouch. It is the story of Jewish girl named Hadassah who marries the King of Persia, becoming known as Queen Esther. She bravely thwarts a plot to kill the Jewish people.
Among the film's stars are Omar Sharif, Luke Goss as young king Xerxes, Tiffany Dupont as Esther, Peter O'Toole as the prophet Samuel, and John Rhys-Davies as Esther's uncle, Mordecai.
Producer Matthew Crouch is the son of religious broadcaster Paul Crouch. He got funding from private investors and from sale of television rights for the film to his father's Trinity Broadcasting Network.
The film's budget of $20 million was small for a story of such epic proportions. But he filmed it in Jodhpur, India, and says the money went a long way there.
"India is an amazing place to make a movie," says Crouch. "It has extraordinary challenge, but it has extraordinary reward at the same time, so the visual images of what we got, I think, couldn't be found anywhere else."
He says the ancient Orient came to life in the Indian location, and despite logistical problems, the setting was ideal.
Actor John Noble, who plays the sinister Prince Admantha, has fond memories of the filming site and Indian crew and extras.
"For me, working with the [Indian] people was a treasure I'll never forget," Noble says. "I found the Indian people to be an absolute delight and an inspiration on how to live life in harmony, and I mean that most sincerely. They were just beautiful people."
And he says the sites were visually stunning.
Producer Matthew Crouch was the man behind the 1999 Christian themed film The Omega Code. Its success revealed an evangelical Christian audience hungry for movies with a message. Mel Gibson's hugely successful 2004 film The Passion of the Christ underlined that point for others in Hollywood.
Crouch says One Night with the King will reach out to religious viewers, and possibly others.
"Our prayer is that people go to the theater, see this movie and enjoy themselves, but ultimately feel that if it happened for that little girl 2500 years ago, it can happen for me," he says. "My life can make a difference too."
Actor John Noble says this film is not just for the faith-based audience. He says it is a classic tale told on a grand scale, like one of his previous movies, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. There, he played the character Denethor.
"This is a story that is very similar. And this young woman [who plays Esther] - Tiffany Dupont is fantastic in it," he says. "She plays this fresh-faced fun-loving girl who is confronted with a huge decision. And she has to put her life at risk to do it. She makes the decision and stops a genocide. That's what communicates. That's what resonates with all of us."
Noble says heroes become heroic by making the right decision under difficult circumstances. He says that is what Esther did to save her people.