A second film in preproduction is the work of Ali Sina, an atheist raised Muslim in Iran. A prominent critic of Islam, he maintains websites that promote what he calls “the truth” about the religion.

To date he says he has raised $2 million from Southern California investors for the film, which does not yet have a title but will portray the prophet as a cult leader in the vein of David Koresh or Jim Jones. He hopes to raise a total of $10 million, he said, and begin filming next year.

Now a resident of Canada, Sina began contemplating a biopic about Muhammad a decade ago, but stepped up his effort in the last two years as technological advances made it feasible to circumvent government censors and wary exhibitors.

“We can bypass theaters completely and sell the movie online with a profit to a large number of people, especially Muslims,” Sina said. “They can download it and watch it even if they are living in Karachi or Mecca or Medina.”