Our take: In the next two years, Hollywood has more than five Bible-based films slated to premiere. Not since the epics of "Ben-Hur" and "The Ten Commandments" has Hollywood been so drawn to religious themes. In this article from the Wall Street Journal, Erica Orden chronicles the former fall and now rise of scipture-based film.

When it sets sail in the coming film "Noah," a massive 148-foot wooden ark will carry not only a slew of zoo animals, but one of Hollywood's biggest wagers in years.

"Noah," a $125 million epic from Viacom's Paramount Pictures, starring Russell Crowe and directed by Darren Aronofsky, is one of a boatload of religious films in the works from major movie studios.

There are compelling economic reasons for Hollywood to embrace the Good Book. The studios are increasingly reliant on source material with a built-in audience, something the Biblethe best-selling book in history certainly has. And like the comic-book superheroes that movie companies have relied on for the past decade, biblical stories are easily recognizable to both domestic and the all-important foreign audiences. What's more, they're free: Studios don't need to pay expensive licensing fees to adapt stories and characters already in the public domain.

With floods, plagues, burning bushes and parting seas, Bible movies make great vehicles for big-budget special effects, a key selling point for a wide swath of audience members. Paramount is hoping "Noah" will connect with religious Americans who "may not necessarily go to more than one or two movies a year," said Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore.