Monday, May 11, 2009

What Movies Do Christians Want? Part I - Passion & Fireproof?

Josh Rottenberg wrote the article "Movies, Money and God" in the most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly.

In the article Rottenberg honestly addresses the issues that after the success of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, film executives and studios became aware that Christians were "a market" that could be targeted.
In fact, there has been a lot of effort to try to re-capture this audience.

The article discusses the "Christian-marketed film" success stories are limited to Passion of the Christ and Disney's Chronicles of Narnia. In terms of percent profit, Fireproof was very successful grossing $33 million in theaters, with a production cost of 1 million dollars.

And I believe, in many ways, the low budget Christian film Fireproof connected with Evangelical audiences largely because the authenticity of the project, being written, produced, and performed by Christians. (Including Kirk Cameron, pictured left).

Yet...even with the vast Christian support, this film "only" grossed $33 million.

Match the success of "The Passion" marketing to Christian won't happen.

There's so many great stories from the Bible that could transition into really compelling film stories. Yet I think what studios might learn first, is when it comes to Biblical stories, no story is as important to the Christian faith then the the death and resurrection of Christ, and while Mel Gibson's passion focused on the brutality of this passion, this is the part of the story that church Easter services might not capture.

When it comes the story of the Nativity, the movie "The Nativity" offered little different that what had been presented in church performances and other Christian videos.
Honestly, it's too bad that more Biblical stories aren't produced with the love, care, budget, and audience-focused presentation placed in the Passion but there will not be another Passion of the Christ.
If there are other Christian success stories in recent years, lower-budget films like Fireproof will probably be the most "successful."
But I think that when it comes to "What Movies Do Christian's Want?" it hardly ends with The Passion of the Christ and Fireproof. In fact, to answer the question in this way is hardly sufficient, and maybe part of where studios have gotten it wrong.
[That's why this post is simply "Part I." More to come. Stay tuned.]


Magnus said...

Frankly, I am waiting for the Hal Hartley or Jim Jarmusch of Christendom.

Loren Eaton said...

Just so long as we don't end up with another Fireproof. The critic in me cringes whenever I here someone singing its praises.

crackers and cheese said...

I would love to see a well done, character-driven drama on the life of the Biblical King David. I'm most fascinated by the emotional aspects of the rise and "fall" of his throne, and I think there's so much in his story that would appeal to Christian and secular audiences. I'd be afraid that a more secularized script would focus too much on the violence, sex, and betrayals in his story, and underplay his relationship with God and the brokenness and repentence that he experienced. If there are writers and directors that could carefully approach both the human and spiritual aspects of his story, I could see this being the basis of a very compelling film.

Anonymous said...

Hey Loren- I doubt the 3,000 plus actual marriages that have been positively impacted, and those who's lives have been changed, cringe when they hear about Fireproof. How cool that you are totally above all that messy stuff!

Loren Eaton said...


Thanks for the irenic tone of your eisegetic statement.

Magnus said...

Dear Anonymous:

Check out #80 at

Magnus said...

Also, as a Christian with strong creative impulses, I need to know - why must we have such a utilitarian approach to our arts? There is a difference between creating meaningful work that communicates ideas and ideals and creating work that is simply propaganda.

meg said...

There is a difference between creating meaningful work that communicates ideas and ideals and creating work that is simply propaganda. - Magnus

YES, yes there IS. Well said.