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5/07/2006

GODSPLOITATION

Long criticized by conservative Christians for profiting from violent or sexually graphic films that corrupt the young, Hollywood is starting to see there is money to be made catering to those critics.

"On Sunday, 43 percent of America was in church," Jonathan Bock, head of a movie marketing company that specializes in religious audiences, said at a panel discussion on "What Would Jesus Direct?" at the Tribeca Film Festival this week.

"For studios to not recognize that's an audience is like them saying, 'We're not marketing movies to men,"' Bock said.

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He and others on the panel, including a 20th Century Fox executive, said the turning point was Mel Gibson's 2004 movie "The Passion of the Christ," which surprised many in Hollywood by grossing more than $370 million in the United States.

"Until two months before it was released, it was pretty much known as the least commercial property in Hollywood," said Michael Flaherty, whose production company was behind "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "Because of Winn-Dixie," both with strong spiritual or moral messages.

"There's a lot of people in the faith community who are looking for these films that are uplifting," Flaherty said.

While "The Passion" is credited with knocking down the door for religious-themed films in Hollywood, Bock said the growing interest was clearly linked to politics. He noted President George W. Bush, a born-again Christian, was elected twice with solid backing from conservative Christians.

'GODSPLOITATION'

Ralph Winter, a producer at 20th Century Fox Films, said Fox's home video department was leading the way in pushing for films for religious audiences.

"They're very interested in opening up that market so we have been making $2 million or $3 million movies based on (Christian) books," he said.

Winter said studios are looking for projects based on good stories likely to make entertaining movies, without being obvious efforts to proselytize and convert people.

Read the rest here.

(HT:BS)

12 Comments:

Blogger NerdMom said...

I think this should just remind all of us, before DaVince is released, that the studios follow the money. They aren't going to really respond to boycotts but they will respond to us spending our money otherwise.

5/07/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Why should we waste 2 or 3 million dollars on making a "movie not designed to convert, etc." when we could do so very much more with that kind of money? See the shlog after this one.

$3million would care for 93,750 children through Compassion for one year or 9375 children for 10 years. People chose whether or not to see any movie and how it affects them and for how long. Choosing to sponsor a child however affects that child in a far more long lasting and profound way and more often, the person doing the sponsoring.

Don't get me wrong, I see movies on occassion and enjoy them when I do. But to think that we can seriously affect this world for God's glory by spending massive amounts of money on making them is utterly stupid.

Beth

5/07/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

The reason may be the same as why we make CDs.

5/07/2006  
Blogger FancyPants said...

Well, I'm not sure that the movies are made with the purpose of ministry in mind. I could be wrong here, but it seems that the producers of the films aren't really concerned with evangelism. They are concerned with providing a product that people will buy, and those people in this instance are Christians.

I definitely think, grovesfan, that using large amounts of money toward children for the sake of following Christ is beautiful. But I don't think the producers are necessarily making a movie to follow Christ. They're providing entertainment that will sell.

And to tell you the truth, since Christians have been asking for this for some time, it's not necessarily bad. We've actually been talking about this over on Five Cent Stand's blog...the same article...and I think that if movie makers can make these movies and make them quality, then why not go see them? If they're quality, meaning well made and non-cheese.

5/07/2006  
Anonymous jwise said...

I had the privilege of listening to Ralph Winter speak at a graduation commencement this weekend. I don't agree with all the points he made, but he did have some very compelling points. Here's one:

Humans relate to Story. God wrote His Word in story. Jesus told mini-stories (parables) everywhere he went. We each live out our own story. A testimony properly shared is a story.

Winter said (paraphrased), "People listen to a sermon on Sunday morning and two hours later can't remember what it was about. The same people watched a movie on Saturday night and are quoting lines from it two months later." For millennia, mankind has told stories. Verbally, in writing, in theater, in music, and now through movies.

There seems to be a language which sits underneath every single spoken and written language on earth. It's the language of story. Don't just say, "The father loved his son." Say, instead, the story of the prodigal son. Decades later, your audience will understand, "The father loved his son."

Something very interesting to chew on.

5/08/2006  
Blogger ikon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5/08/2006  
Anonymous shaun groves said...

fancypants said, "Well, I'm not sure that the movies are made with the purpose of ministry in mind. I could be wrong here, but it seems that the producers of the films aren't really concerned with evangelism. "

Does the creator have to have "ministry" in mind in order for his creation to used by God to minister?

jwise said, "Humans relate to Story. God wrote His Word in story."

SOME of what God wrote was story and SOME of what SOME people relate to is story. But certainly you'd agree that not all human beings in even one country -America, for instance - relay or absorb information best when it's in story form. The epistles of Paul certainly aren't stories. The bulk of the New Testament isn't story. All of Jesus' teaching - the Sermon on the Mount comes to mind - wasn't story. And out textbooks, business meetings, and web pages are not story. Story is good but it's not the primary and definitely not the only form of communication we moderns and post-moserns are using effectively to communicate. It's one style. Yet a very important one for sure.

5/08/2006  
Anonymous jwise said...

Shaun, good point. I wasn't inferring that everything we do must be in story form. But there is something very powerful about the story, and making great movies that convey good messages can be a great way of talking the "story language". I certainly don't want to discount all the non-story aspects, though. Thanks for the refinement :)

5/08/2006  
Blogger The Cachinnator said...

I would add that while not all information is relayed or processed in story, we all use narrative in one form or another to organize that information. Once we receive it, we integrate it into the story of our lives. So in one way or another, all information passes through us in a kind of story. What do you guys think?

5/08/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

What about this though...My generation and the one after me were the first (supposedly) to thing non-linearly - to think in mosaic form. Stories are linear: this, then this, then, that, then...

I tend to think in mosaic: This fact here, that story of there, this personal experience...all combining and synthesizing together. We multitask better than our parents, we combine multiple fields of study to reach conclusions about yet another field. We jump through time, back and forth, and through barriers like the labels of science or art or religion and we take what we find useful from wherever we find it and build something new with it. Life isn't this then that for us. It's more likely to be a collage - a mosaic - of seemingly unrelated non-linear items. It's a scavenger hunt, a mystery, one worm hole after another. And story is PART of our learning process. It's pone tile out of many.

So say "experts" and my personal experience.

5/08/2006  
Blogger Amy said...

Movies are ridiculously expensive to make. So are tv shows. It's amazing really. So movies might not convert people, I still think art, music, film, etc. is a huge part of who God created us to be. He created us and we create. I can be inspired to think about things in a different way from movie or book, or a song. It might play a very pivotal role in my inner thought life. It doesn't have to be "christian." so maybe as a tool for "conversion" movies aren't the best thing in the world, but I think they have a place in our lives.

5/09/2006  
Blogger The Cachinnator said...

We absolutely process non-linear thinking as a first preference and with much more ability than previous generations. That's how music videos work for us and not our parent's generation. Old school music videos are concert footage. Today, the very best in music video is non-linear in nature, and we get it! I didn't mean to imply by 'story' that I meant 'a linear storyline.' But back to the reason for the post, that is one reason why movies are so popular and are such a primary mode of communication. That said, I think they are generally an awful mode of evangelism. As I've said before, witnessing doesn't need devices, a witness is a person.

5/10/2006  

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