Nicky Cruz is well known in evangelical circles as the former gang member who turned his life around after converting to Christianity.

His autobiography, published in 1968, became a best-seller, and his life provided fodder for “The Cross and the Switchblade” a 1970 movie starring Erik Estrada.

But Cruz, who leads a Christian outreach organization in Colorado Springs, remains relatively unknown to the general public.

That may change next summer when a feature film about Cruz’s life is scheduled to hit movie theaters.

David Urabe, president of Convolo Productions in Los Angeles, wants to bring Cruz’s story to a mainstream audience, not just a Christian one, as was largely the case with the 1970 movie.

The new film, tentatively titled “Run Baby Run: The Life Story of Nicky Cruz,” has a $12 million budget, Urabe said.

The director is Antoine Fuqua, who directed the 2001 film “Training Day,” which made more than $76 million at the U.S. box office. The screenwriter is Gregory Anderson, who wrote “Stomp the Yard,” which made nearly $61.4 million in the U.S. in 2007.

Cruz, the film’s creative consultant, said it will not be a “cheesy” Christian movie. It will be critical of how mainstream Christianity has been practiced over the last 10 years, he said, and will delve into the world of dysfunctional families.

“I hope that teenagers and parents looking for release from their problems will finding something helpful in it,” he said.

You don't have to wait for the film to come out to find out more about Cruz. He's speaking during the 9 and 11 a.m. services Sunday at The Springs Church, 640 Chapel Hills Drive. For more information, call the church at 488-8331

Call Barna at 636-0367